Nathan Congleton – NBC News/TODAY
It was time for Alice Johnson to meet the woman responsible for securing her freedom.
After spending 20 years of a life sentence in prison for drug trafficking, the 63-year-old was released on parole after President Donald Trump commuted her sentence this month. Had it not been for Kim Kardashian, the great-grandmother may have been spending the rest of her life behind bars.
It was last October when the reality star first learned of Johnson’s case and shared a report about her with her 60 million Twitter followers. Seven months later, the two women came face to face for the first time—in Johnson’s home.
“It became this mission that I just didn’t want to give up,” Kardashian said of wanting to win Johnson’s freedom during a Today interview aired on Thursday. As the women sat side by side in front of Hoda Kotb, the mother of three described how she had spoken to her attorney soon after learning about Johnson to see if there was anything they could do to help her. She also got on the phone with First Daughter Ivanka Trump.
“I called Ivanka and we had a really great conversation about women and wanting to help each other and I knew that she would’ve understood Alice and she immediately was so receptive and so great,” Kardashian said.
While some have criticized Kardashian and attributed the seemingly smooth process to her celebrity, Kardashian said that wasn’t the case. “We had been in talks and working on this for seven months and it wasn’t an instant thing,” she said in defense.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s life was suddenly intertwined with one of the most famous stars in the world—one she had never heard of before. “I did not know her name,” Johnson admitted. “I didn’t know Kim.” So, she started to do her homework, gathering whichever magazines she could find to learn about the mogul.
As for Kardashian, she eventually had a meeting to take at the Oval Office on, coincidentally, on Johnson’s birthday. “It was overwhelming in the most amazing way,” she described her late May meeting with the president.
After cracking a joke about sister Khloe Kardashian being fired from Celebrity Apprentice, the two got serious about Johnson’s case. “The president had compassion for her right away,” Kardashian said. “He felt that it was the right thing to do.”
A week later, Johnson was free, though it took a call from Kardashian to learn the life-changing news. “I thought she knew because the news was starting to break and we had to get her on the phone,” the reality star explained.
“When she said that [I could go home], I went into full-fledged pentacostal holy dance,” Johnson said.
“I love this woman,” Kardashian told her. “I love this lady,” Johnson said in response as they embraced.
Now, more than 20 years after being convicted for a crime at the lowest point in her life, Johnson’s experiences will shape her special next chapter.
“I plan on continuing to magnify this issue,” she told Kotb. “I can’t stop.”
As for Kardashian, she’s not exactly planning to run for public office, but she has found a new passion in life.
“I’m still doing me, but I enjoy this,” she said. “This has fulfilled my heart. Since I feel so fulfilled, why would I stop that?”
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)