According to a White House statement, the beneficiary of the commutation was Alice Johnson, who was given life sentence in 1996 for possession of drugs and money laundering, Xinhua reported.
“Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behaviour and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades,” the statement said.
Trump’s decision came after hollywood celebrity Kim Kardashian West visited Trump last week to lobby on behalf of Johnson, West reportedly became involved in the case after learning of Johnson’s case in a video, she tweeted to her 60 million followers “BEST NEWS EVER!” after the White House’s decision.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is said to have coordinated with West from within the White House.
Despite being applauded by some, the move has raised concerns among most of Trump’s advisers, who believe that commuting Johnson may undermine the administration’s hard-on-crime message.
Among the skeptics are White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who upon reviewing the case argued that it was unnecessary for Trump to carry out the commutation.
In defence of Trump’s decision, the White House pledged that it will “always be very tough on crime”, while insisting that “those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance”.
The US media reported that Trump may pardon a dozen or more people in the coming weeks. In a controversial tweet earlier this week, Trump touted that he has “absolute” power to pardon himself.
Prompting the White House press office to clarify later that the occasion wouldn’t arise as Trump hasn’t done anything wrong.