Johnson, a Black woman, served nearly 22 years of a life sentence in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. Her story of survival and reform went viral after Mic released a video interview with her.
After learning about Johnson’s plight on Twitter, Kim Kardashian ― who in recent years has used her high profile to address individual prison cases ― met with Trump in May 2018 to discuss potentially helping Johnson. A week later, the president commuted her sentence.
Trump’s 30-second ad features Johnson discussing the clemency, saying she’s “free to start over” because of the president.
“Thanks to President Trump, people like Alice are getting a second chance,” the ad says. “Politicians talk about criminal justice reform. President Trump got it done. Thousands of families are being reunited.”
Johnson herself tweeted out the campaign ad on Sunday. “Two Super Bowls ago I was sitting in a prison cell. Today I am a free woman and my story was featured in a Super Bowl Ad,” she wrote. “I will spend the rest of my life fighting for the wrongly and unjustly convicted! God Bless America!”
Kardashian responded to Johnson’s tweet: “So proud of you!!!!”
The ad featuring Johnson is the first of two Trump campaign ads set to air during the Super Bowl.
While Trump did commute Johnson’s sentence, he is not anything close to a symbol of progressive criminal justice reform. Trump famously called for the death penalty for five teenage boys, once known as the Central Park 5, who were wrongly convicted in a vicious attack on a woman. The president is also behind the detention centers that are currently holding migrant children in unsanitary and inhumane conditions. Trump has also promoted police brutality and attacked activist and former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality.
Twitter users quickly reacted to the first Trump ad, criticizing the president both for using Johnson’s case to politically boost himself and for labeling himself a champion of criminal justice reform when his record proves otherwise.