Alice Johnson Fires Back at Politico for Calling Her a Trump Prop: 'I'm Not a Puppet'


Alice Johnson was one of the most talked-about speakers at the Republican National Convention this past week.

But, according to a tweet by Politico, she was “propped up” by the Trump administration.

That wouldn’t be unusual if it weren’t for the fact that Johnson had served nearly 22 years of a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. And the “propped up” language wouldn’t be so offensive if it hadn’t been used about a black woman.

She was released as part of President Donald Trump’s criminal justice reform efforts; the president commuted her sentence in 2018, Fox News reported. Her case had come to national attention thanks to the efforts of Kim Kardashian West.

She was given a full pardon Friday, one day after her appearance at the convention.

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“Alice was given a life sentence … and for something that, today, a lot of people wouldn’t even be going to jail for,” the president told the media during a briefing. “I’m so proud of you, and we’re giving Alice a full pardon. I just told her.”

If you want to read this a certain way, it makes it sound like Johnson was a prop.

The thing is, Johnson is a distinguished criminal justice reformer in her own right, having become a senior fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Crime initiative, which “supports conservative solutions for reducing crime, restoring victims, reforming offenders, and lowering taxpayer costs.”

“I’m an example of a woman who has been given a second chance in life,” Johnson said during her RNC appearance Thursday.

“I was once told that the only way I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse. But by the grace of God and the compassion of President Donald John Trump, I stand before you tonight, and I assure you I’m not a ghost. I am alive. I am well. And most importantly, I am free.”

“What I did was wrong. I made decisions that I regret,” she said.

“Some say you do the crime, you do the time. However, that time should be fair and just. We’ve all made mistakes. None of us want to be defined forever based on our worst decision. While in prison, I became a playwright, a mentor, a certified hospice volunteer, an ordained minister, and received the Special Olympics Event Coordinator of the Year award for my work with disabled women, because the only thing worse than unjustly imprisoning my body is trying to imprison my mind.”

And here’s how Politico defined her appearance:

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You can imagine the pushback this received:

In an appearance Friday on Fox News, Johnson also blasted Politico — noting that not only was the outlet’s tweet insulting, it was factually inaccurate.

She said that despite Politico’s tweet claiming she was “propped up as one of the most prominent beneficiaries of the terms of the FIRST STEP Act,” her release had nothing to do with the act itself.

“That was very insulting language,” Johnson said. “I was not a recipient of the FIRST STEP Act, I was granted a commutation — which is clemency — first of all by the president, and my commutation really helped him, it triggered him to want to put sentencing reform in the FIRST STEP Act.”

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“To address Politico, to think that I can’t think for myself is a huge insult to me,” she continued. “I don’t feel as if I’m anyone’s prop. No one can prop me up to do anything that I don’t want to do. It was an honor for me to be there to speak at the RNC last night.”

“That is my mission, is criminal justice reform,” she added. “Why would I not want to go there?”

Because she’d be propping up the president, of course. But it’s OK, she can’t think for herself. She’s a black woman who likes Trump, after all. She’s just supporting a criminal justice initiative that helps the president cover up his racist agenda by releasing nonviolent offenders whose sentences may have been disproportionate to the crime committed.

I mean, forget the assumption liberals are making that these prisoners must be black. Or the fact that if Trump is trying to court the racist vote, then releasing these prisoners who liberals believe are black would also be counterproductive. Or that — well, don’t think about this too hard, because Politico clearly didn’t.

She’s being “propped up.” Got it? Good.

In an earlier appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Johnson addressed the criticism she and GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina — who is also black — received, noting that they were being singled out for “exercising our choice” to “use our minds.”

“Both Tim Scott and I were both born black and we’re going to die black,” she said. “We are exercising our choice, and our right, and our freedom to use our minds.

“I’m not a prop and I’m not a puppet. I make my own choices as to what I’d like to do.”

That, apparently, won’t fly with some members of the media.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture