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Kim Kardashian on her criminal justice reform work: ‘I will work with any administration’

The New York Times has done a profile of Kim Kardashian’s work on criminal justice reform and her move to cozy up to the Trump administration in effort to get Donald Trump to issue more pardons and commutations. Kim’s been involved with these issues for two years now, and for better or for worse, it’s become her “signature” advocacy issue. Kim understands that there are tons of people who will just dismiss her out of hand, because she’s a reality star and people assume she’s vapid as hell. But Kim absorbs those dismissals and just keeps on figuring out ways to parlay her fame and celebrity to get what she wants: pardons, commutations and increased visibility of criminal justice reform. What I appreciate is that Kim never went into this half-cocked. She didn’t wake up one day and decide to cozy up to Trump without war-gaming everything. Meanwhile, the NY Times seems mystified that someone famous for Instagram ads about her intimates line is also meeting with Trump on a regular basis. Some highlights from this NYT piece.

She’ll work with anyone: “I do love that I see so many different potential candidates discussing it. I will work with any administration.”

She’s interning with #Cut50: Several times a week, Kardashian West would drive — or be driven by her security team — to #Cut50’s Los Angeles offices, in a nondescript, two-story building not far from her home. (That was in normal times, anyway, before she stocked an extra house she owns with food, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.) In the office, she would set up shop with her contracts or “crim law” binders and a tiny white chocolate mocha, hot, with whipped cream. She said her army green “school backpack” from Yeezy, her husband’s brand, ripped because her books were so heavy.

She loves her law studies: “I was never one to like school — honestly, I hated it. So the fact that I love it is so shocking to me. But everything kind of pertains to me now,” like contracts, for example, which would have felt meaningless to her in college, she said. “Now, I get contracts all the time. So I read them, and I understand how to read them, and how to write them. And then criminal law, that’s just what I’m into. That’s super interesting to me.”

How her internship works: As an apprentice at #Cut50 (the group’s national director, Michael Mendoza, giggled as he called her “our intern”), she must do at least 18 hours of work for them each week, five of which has to be supervised. So Jessica Jackson, one of the group’s co-founders, flies to Los Angeles to study with her, where she is joined by a senior counsel at #Cut50, Erin Haney. Both women split their time between the Bay Area and Washington D.C. They settle into a room where white walls are lined with legal books, while Kardashian West takes notes in what Jackson describes as “absurdly good handwriting.” Kardashian West pays for their travel expenses, though these days, they make do with FaceTime and phone calls.

Her work isn’t always high-profile: “I know my role, that I can be there at the end to push it through. I can also be a silent partner. I think it’s knowing when to speak out and when not to, and when to privately call. People think you need to shout it out on social media and shame people into making decisions, but that’s not how it is.”

She doesn’t care if people criticize her relationship to the Trump administration: “People would always warn me, well you can’t go into the White House, you can’t have any association. To me, that wasn’t what it was about. I thought, my reputation over someone’s life? It didn’t matter to me about what anyone assumed.”

She’s also not afraid of working to help violent offenders: “Doing the documentary, I wanted to pick very specific people — in a sex trafficking situation, in a murder — and really show people that once you maybe get to know their background and their history, you might soften up, too. And there’s a lot of people who are really deserving of these second chances.”

Kim also talks about how publicists told her, years ago, to find some touchy-feely advocacy issue involving kids or animals but those charities, while worthy, didn’t interest her or excite her criminal justice reform. There’s also information about how she operates on a daily basis, like she deletes almost all of her texts every night and she reads every letter prisoners send her, and she hates when her inbox is crowded. She’s hyper-organized, like her mother. Anyway, while I hate that Kim works so closely with the Trumps and Kushners, I also admit that it’s a weird political conundrum when a Kardashian is lending HER credibility to the president of the United States. And that’s the choice she’s made, that’s the political calculation she’s willing to go through. So… hate-respect.

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