Donald Trump on Thursday said that he would overrule the Attorney General Jeff Sessions if Sessions tries to block his efforts to do a criminal justice system overhaul.
“If he doesn’t, then he gets overruled by me,” Donald Trump said when he was asked during an interview he had with “Fox & Friends” about Jeff Sessions’ opposition to the major effort.
“There has to be a reform because it’s very unfair right now,” said the president. “It’s very unfair to African-Americans. It’s very unfair to everybody. And it’s also very costly.” President Trump’s commitment to helping African-Americans is dubious of course, due to his well-documented racism, but this could represent a welcome change in his attitude.
Sessions, the law-and-order candidate estranged from Trump after the Russia probe, played a major role in successfully urging Trump to put off his actions on criminal justice reform until after the midterm elections.
But Trump seems to have made the topic a top priority mostly thanks to the advocacy of Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser and Trump’s son in law.
“Jared Kushner has kept the president in the loop and today’s statements by the president are indicative that he’s interested in this issue and is the one that will make the final decision,” said someone familiar with the talks, who added that Jared Kushner has briefed the Republican president regularly on the issue.
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, and the Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin along with other lawmakers have urged Trump to support their criminal-justice legislation.
Trump’s comments came just hours before he had lunch with rapper Kanye West and the former NFL star Jim Brown, both of whom are expected to urge Donald Trump to move forward with meaningful prison and sentencing reforms.
“First of all, I like him a lot,” Donald Trump said of Kanye West. “He’s a friend of mine. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a different kind of guy. He’s a very different kind of a guy, I say that in a positive way.”
Kanye West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, helped to persuade Trump to give clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, who is a 63-year-old grandmother previously serving a life sentence for her first-time, non-violent drug crime that was committed in the 1990s.
Trump said that Kardashian “brought the attention to Mrs. Johnson” and he said it was very unfair that she got such a long sentence.
There’s fresh momentum for criminal justice reform on Capitol Hill as the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated on Wednesday that he plans to bring the issue to the Senate floor after the November 6th election if they have enough votes to beat a filibuster.
“We’re going to try real hard to get it done,” Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, said to The Hill on Wednesday.