President Donald Trump will set his sights on prison reform Thursday during a listening session with senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has been researching the subject for the past six months, Axios reported.
Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have been staunch advocates of justice reform since President Donald Trump’s election. Kushner has taken the past six months to meet with experts and develop a plan to address mass incarceration, an issue of great importance to him due to the former incarceration of his father, Charles Kushner, Axios reported Wednesday. Standing opposed to Kushner’s goals, however, is Attorney General Jeff Sessions. If Kushner decides to press the issue, the two are likely to clash in the coming weeks as they lobby Donald Trump for support.
Kushner has already been meeting with a bipartisan group of Congressmen in an attempt to gauge support. Ivanka Trump and Kushner hosted a dinner meeting in October with staunch Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, along with Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
There had been somewhat of a bipartisan consensus on softening sentences and reducing jail populations under former President Barack Obama’s administration. It was only with the appointment of Sessions that cooperation began to falter, with some Republicans reverting toward Sessions’ “tough-on-crime” policies.
“My advice was very simple, you need to solve the problem of DOJ opposition, which puts everybody who wants this done in a very difficult position,” Whitehouse told the Associated Press in October. “And if the president wants this done, the attorney general reports to him, and he ought to be able to sort that out.”
However, many Republicans have proven willing to push back on Sessions. Lee and GOP Sen. Rand Paul have been extremely forward with a rejection of Sessions’ policy, writing a letter with Durbin and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey in June calling on the attorney general to back off his push for higher mandatory minimum sentences.
Kushner has met with former inmates, faith leaders, and conservatives to draft up his proposal. Mark Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries, which has long pushed for justice reform, said he was “impressed with Kushner’s passion,” according to Axios.
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