Johnson was convicted in 1996 for a nonviolent drug offence and sentenced to life imprisonment. She served 21 years in prison before West personally took her case to President Donald Trump in May. On June 6, Trump commuted Johnson's sentence and she was released from prison.
West spoke to host Don Lemon on what it took to convince Trump to look at Johnson's case and said it was much more complicated than many have assumed. “I think people might think like Kim went to the White House, had this conversation, it was done and that’s it," she said before adding: "I saw this seven months ago and I have been daily phone calls with the White House. Maybe a dozen emails a day trying to get letters, letters from the warden. I mean I-- I have to get credit to where Alice’s whole team had been working on this for years. So -- I mean I did step in late in the game. So I don’t want to take away from what -- I mean you’ve been working on this for three years.”
On meeting Trump, West says she never gets "star struck" but "was star struck over the Oval Office." "It really felt powerful and felt -- like, you can just feel the history in there. And I just -- I don't know, I just took a second to take it all in," West said.
West has met Trump before on several occasions and said he greeted her with a "hug." "He was like OK so what’s going on? You know, why are we here? He started the meeting. … I really want to know -- I’m here because I really want to know why did you kick Khloe off The Apprentice? He gave us a laugh, and it was funny and then we got in to business. And you know, he felt it."
She added that Trump "was compassionate, he was sympathetic to her. He said, you know, this is a really long time that she’s been in here, right? This just isn’t fair. He knew that this is the right thing to do, and he said that from the start after he had heard her whole story and situation and he knew it was the right thing to do. And he said that, and he was really honest with it. And he wanted to make it happen.”
West's visit to the White House in May contrasted with the recent imbroglio over the planned and then canceled visit of the Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles. Lemon asked West about the controversy of celebrities choosing not to visit the White House. “I do still respect their choice, I mean, everyone can do what they want to do -- I never judge other people. And I do think sometimes situations are different, but I just am focused and could separate my feelings on certain policies."
"To me it wasn’t about policies, it was about -- I can change someone’s life. And if I have the opportunity to do that, like it just wasn’t even a question for me,” West said.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.