Kim Kardashian West is putting her efforts in criminal justice reform above her reputation.
In PEOPLE’s exclusive clip of Friday’s episode of The View, guest Kardashian West is asked by co-host Meghan McCain if she was concerned about facing potential backlash for working alongside President Donald Trump on criminal justice reform.
“I definitely was aware, but for me, any of my issues have always been more about the people and not about the politics,” explains Kardashian West, 38. “And so for me, to think that I couldn’t go and speak to the man that has the power to change people’s lives because of some opinions I may have of certain policies and issues, to me felt very self-centered that I was more worried about my reputation than saving someone’s life. I put that all out the door and I thought, ‘you know what, I’m going to choose her over my reputation.’ ”
The “her” Kardashian West refers to is Alice Marie Johnson, a 64-year-old nonviolent drug offender who was released from a life prison sentence last year due in part to the reality star’s successful petitions to the president.
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After Kardashian West earns applause from the The View audience, McCain, a vocal critic of Trump, says of the president: “He also only tends to listen to celebrities, so the fact that you’re doing it I think is a great help to so many people because he loves celebrities.”
“We all applauded you when you did it and it’s amazing work you’re doing,” the conservative commentator notes.
Adds Kardashian West: “I felt like I had an open opportunity to do that, and from the president going from being really harsh on his stance on prison reform, to changing and actually signing the First Step Act and getting that bill passed, was amazing.”
The mother of four — who is currently studying to become a lawyer — had advocated for the passage of the First Step Act, which was signed into law in December. The bipartisan legislation includes sentencing reforms and an expansion of programs focused on helping prisoners not re-offend, such as job training.
In June, Kardashian West appeared at the White House and was acknowledged by the president for her criminal justice efforts, as was her husband, Kanye West. Trump also credited Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for pushing the First Step Act into action.
When introducing the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star, Trump said: “I’d like to invite up a very special guest, and a powerful advocate for not only justice reform, but just a good person and I hear she’s starting to study law, she’s also one of the most successful people in the entertainment business, soon she’ll be one of the most successful lawyers,” he shared. “But I knew her father and I’ll tell you, she’s got good genes — good genes for everything. She’s been a real friend and her husband has been a real friend of mine. Kim Kardashian West.”
After taking the stage, Kardashian West shared that it was “such an honor to be here today.”
“My whole journey with criminal justice reform started about a year ago when I came to see the president after speaking to Ivanka and Jared who really fought for me to get here. And I pled the case of Alice Johnson who the president granted clemency to. After that I really spent so much time going to different prisons ’cause I really had no connection to anybody on the inside and really just felt like for me, I’m at the place in my life that I wanted to make a difference and just wanted to do the right thing, but I didn’t know how or what to do or even really what was going on,“ she said.
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Kardashian West used the opportunity to announce a new “ride-share partnership where formally incarcerated people will be gifted gift cards so they can get rides to and from job interviews jobs, family members and that is so important, so needed.”
She also thanked Trump for “really standing behind this issue and seeing the compassion he’s really had for criminal justice has been really remarkable.”
Many supporters of overhauling the criminal justice system have applauded the president’s work. But some advocates worry that the First Step Act may not be implemented well and stress that it should — as its name suggests — be just the beginning of larger-scale reform efforts.
Kardashian West has begun a four-year apprenticeship with a law firm and hopes to take the bar in 2022. She has made prison reform her main focus.
“I think now having gotten so deep in helping Alice , I’m really motivated to get to know the law more and fight for people who deserve a second chance like her,“ she said on an episode of KUWTK.