DOUBLE TAKE: Van Jones Praises President Trump, "Give Him Credit For This One"!

DOUBLE TAKE: Van Jones Praises President Trump, “Give Him Credit For This One”!

It's true!


You’d think this would have to be FAKE NEWS, but it’s not.

Van Jones was on CNN praising President Trump and saying “give him credit for this one.”

And you know what?  He’s right.

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The subject of the praise was the newly-passed Prison Reform Bill, spearheaded by Jared Kushner and supported by President Trump.

When everyone said it could never get through Congress, with Kushner and Trump working diligently behind the scenes, it actually sailed through rather easily.

THIS is a model for exactly how Congress and the President should work together, and I applaud it along with Van Jones.

Well done on all sides.  

Praise was common from many people, including Alveda King:

Here is Van Jones praising Trump:

Time had the inside story on how it all came together:

The bipartisan bill to reform federal prisons hung in the balance on Dec. 10 as Van Jones settled into Jared Kushner’s cramped West Wing office. The liberal CNN host and criminal justice-reform advocate had been huddling with the senior White House adviser for months, and now they were running out of time. 

As Jones munched mini peanut-butter cups from a bowl on Kushner’s table, the unlikely pair went over the checklist of tasks Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had asked them to complete before scheduling a vote on the measure. Secure 60 votes in the Senate? They had more than 80. Find time to take up the bill during a crowded end-of-year schedule? Key Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee gave them time set aside for confirming judges. Win support from law-enforcement groups? More had come on board. President Trump had even encouraged McConnell on Twitter to take up the bill. But the clock was ticking, and still McConnell hadn’t budged.

Sitting with Jones, Kushner agreed to make one more run at the Senate majority leader. “There was a look in Jared’s eye,” Jones recalls. And so, the President’s son-in-law and White House aides again appealed to McConnell, arguing that the time had come for a vote and it was his role to show that vocal critics of the effort, like Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, don’t run the Senate GOP conference. The effort appeared to work. The next day, McConnell announced he was scheduling a vote on the bill. 

Now the years of work by criminal-justice reform advocates on both sides of the aisle has paid off. On Dec. 19, the bill passed the Senate by a margin of 87-12. Even McConnell voted for it. And on Dec. 21, just hours before the government was scheduled to shut down, Trump signed the bill into law in the Oval Office, marking a rare bipartisan breakthrough. Advocates had not just coaxed support from once-skeptical senators. They had convinced a tough-on-crime president to back it, surmounted two years of partisan rancor and finished a landmark effort that had stalled during Barack Obama’s administration.  

The new law will ease the sentences for some crack cocaine-related convictions and likely speed up the release of more than 2,600 federal prisoners. It will create a system for inmates to earn credits toward early release and sets up new programs designed to improve their ability to adapt to life after prison. It ends the practice of shackling pregnant women inmates; bans juveniles from being held in solitary in federal facilities; and gives judges more discretion in sentencing decisions. Proponents say the law, which only deals with federal inmates, can serve as a template for states and local jurisdictions that incarcerate the vast majority of the 2.1 million people jailed in the U.S.

The story of how the bill got to Trump’s desk begins with the broad coalition of conservatives and liberals—from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Koch brothers—who have been working on a solution to unnecessarily harsh prison sentences for years. And it includes an unlikely cast of key characters, including Kim Kardashian West and her husband Kanye; Trump’s son-in-law Kushner; and a 63-year-old former federal inmate named Alice Johnson. The bill brought together advocates from all points on the political spectrum, from Black Lives Matter activists, who are frustrated with drug laws that disproportionately incarcerate African Americans, to Tea Party conservatives who objected to what they saw as wasteful spending on prisons without evidence that holding nonviolent drug offenders kept Americans safe. 

But the bill wouldn’t have become law had its advocates not found a way to convince a skeptical president to support the most sweeping reforms to federal prison sentences and rehabilitation programs in decades. On the campaign trial, Trump called himself the “law and order candidate.” As recently as March, Trump said getting tough on drug dealers “includes the death penalty.” 

The turning point, White House officials say, was an Oval Office meeting in May between Trump and Kardashian West. Several months before, the reality TV star had been scrolling through her Twitter feed when she saw a viral video about Johnson, a first-time drug offender who had been arrested in 1993 in a Memphis cocaine trafficking case, and was serving a life sentence without parole in federal prison, becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother while incarcerated for a nonviolent crime. Kardashian West had tweeted the video out to her 59 million followers. Then, after digging deeper into Johnson’s case, Kardashian West called Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and senior adviser.

“I called Ivanka, thinking she would be able to help, and she would understand woman to woman, and really see and feel compassion, and she did,” Kardashian West told TIME in a phone interview. “Once you kind of get into it, you definitely see how messed up the system is.” 

Ivanka Trump introduced Kardashian West to her husband Kushner, who had been working with lawmakers and advocates on prison and sentencing reforms. Kushner’s own father spent 14 months in federal prison starting in 2005 for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering. Jared Kushner has told others that his family’s experience with the justice system has given him a sense of responsibility to take up prison reform at the White House. Kushner pushed hard for Trump to meet in person with Kardashian West.

An initial meeting was canceled at the last minute when skeptical White House officials asked for a thousand letters in support of Johnson. But Kardashian West persisted. After showing there was wide-spread support for Johnson, and lining up a job for her after her release, Kardashian West and her lawyer Shawn Holley met with Trump in the Oval Office May 30, along with Kushner and then-White House counsel Don McGahn. 

Sitting across the Resolute Desk from the President, Kardashian West made the case for letting Johnson walk free. Kardashian West left the West Wing that day feeling like the meeting couldn’t have gone any better. And she was right. In June, Trump announced he was commuting Johnson’s sentence. “I just felt like we really changed somebody’s life,” Kardashian West says.

Read the rest here.

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And from USA Today:

A sweeping bill intended to reduce the number of people in the nation's prisons was on its way to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature Thursday after the House voted overwhelmingly to approve it.

The bill, known as the "First Step Act," passed the House 358-36 after passing the Senate earlier this week 87-12. Trump has supported thebipartisan measure and has said he would sign it into law. He congratulated the House for passing the bill.

"This is a great bi-partisan achievement for everybody,'' Trump tweeted. "When both parties work together we can keep our Country safer. A wonderful thing for the U.S.A.!!"

The measure would give judges more discretion in sentencing offenders for nonviolent crimes, particularly drug offenses, and strengthen rehabilitation programs for former prisoners. It would also call for placing federal prisoners closer to home – no more than 500 miles – so families could visit more often.

“We’re giving a first step to many who have not had that in the past," said Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., a leading sponsor of the effort. “The first step will get us to many others.”

Collins said was passage was due in part to timing and the right idea.

“I think we hit the right time with the right idea at the right moment," he said.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., joined others at a press conference Dec. 20, 2018, to praise House passage of the First Step Act. (Photo: Deborah Barfield Berry, USA TODAY)

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats in the House praised each other across the aisle for their work on the criminal justice reform bill.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who also led the effort, applauded members from both sides as well as conservatives and liberals and the White House for uniting to address what he called "over incarceration."  

“We incarcerate more people in the United States of America than any other county in the word," said Jeffries, noting there are 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States. “It is a scandal. It is a stain on our democratic society. It’s not a Democratic problem or a Republican problem, it’s an American problem."

Axios had a great executive summary of the new Bill:

Why it matters: For years, advocates and lawmakers have worked to reform the federal prison system only to have their efforts fall apart at the last minute. But with the help of Jared Kushner in the White House and a bipartisan Senate coalition, the First Step Act has made it past the Senate and will now likely become law — impacting thousands of current federal inmates.

What's next: The bill is going back to the House, where it is also expected to pass. The House passed a less expansive version of the bill earlier this year. After that it'll head to the president's desk for signature. 

Details: The bill would...

  • Send up to 4,000 prisoners home by increasing the amount of time inmates can cut off of their sentences due to good behavior.
  • Allow more male and female inmates to serve time in house arrest or halfway homes instead of prison cells, with exceptions for high-risk inmates. 
  • Require that prisoners be placed within 500 miles of family.
  • Outlaw shackling during child birth.
  • Mandate the provision of sanitary napkins and tampons to female inmates.
  • Reduce the mandatory penalty from life to 25 years for a third conviction of certain drug offenses, and from 25 to 15 years for a second conviction.
  • Prohibit the doubling up, or "stacking," of mandatory sentences for certain gun and drug offenses.
  • Give judges more discretion in giving less than the mandatory minimum for certain low-level crimes.
  • Make the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act retroactive, which changed sentencing guidelines to treat offenses involving crack and powder cocaine equally. This could impact nearly 2,600 federal inmates, according to the Marshall Project.

The big picture: This bill would only impact the 180,789 people incarcerated in federal prisons, but many of the changes reflect reforms already implemented in many states. 

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