President Trump’s endorsement of a bi-partisan prison reform plan has made an unlikely, albeit temporary, ally in CNN’s Van Jones.
Jones, a frequent Trump critic, reportedly visited President Trump and Jared Kushner at the White House on Friday to discuss the proposed bill, which would, among other things, improve prison conditions as well as the reentry process for prisoners getting released.
During an interview on CNN Monday morning, Jones called the experience of meeting and even getting teased by the president “surreal” after disagreeing with him on 99 percent of issues. And yet, on this issue, they have managed to find common ground.
“On this issue, he has been tough,” said Jones, noting that the president showed compassion for prisoners “that most liberal Democrat would have agreed with.”
“If we can’t get together for liberty and justice for all, something’s wrong with this country,” Jones said on Friday, according to CNN. “We’ll do something on this issue; we’ll fight about everything else, but on this issue, let’s get together.”
Jones was asked Monday whether it was a problem that sentencing reform, another issue he’s passionate about, wasn’t included in this bill.
“I think the civil rights community right now is actually a little bit divided. Some people are saying if we can’t get everything … we’ll just take nothing,” Jones said. “Well, the problem is, we’ve been saying that now for eight years. We said everything or nothing under Obama and we wound up with nothing. And so I think continuing to do the same thing [and] expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.”
“Prison reform is an issue that unites people from across our political spectrum,” Trump said Friday. “It’s an amazing thing. Our whole nation benefits if former inmates are able to re-enter our society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”
“Send a bill to my desk,” the president said. “I will sign it.”
A group consisting of 48 lawmakers from both parties called the Problem Solvers Caucus has endorsed the First Step Act, which the House Judiciary Committee approved last week by a 25–5 margin, according to CNN.
“And wouldn’t it be amazing, if the one area of bipartisan thought and cooperation in the entire country was to help the least of these…?” Jones said.