CNN’s Van Jones — a reliably anti-Trump pundit — reversed course by actually praising President Donald Trump for his decision on Wednesday to back the bipartisan First Step Act, which offers sweeping criminal justice and sentencing reform.
If passed, the bill would allow judges to use more discretion in lowering the sentences of nonviolent offenders and support increased rehabilitation efforts, among other action items.
Trump called on Congress to pass the bill, saying during a Wednesday White House speech that the bill “will make our communities safer and give former inmates a second chance at life after they have served their time.”
“Americans from across the political spectrum can unite around prison reform legislation that will reduce crime while giving our fellow citizens a chance at redemption. So if something happens and they make a mistake, they get a second chance at life,” Trump said. “Today’s announcement shows that true bipartisanship is possible.”
Jones was simply enthralled with Trump’s endorsement.
“I think you’ve got to give him some credit,” Jones said of Trump on “CNN Tonight” with Don Lemon on Wednesday evening. “When [former President Barack] Obama was in office, no matter what he did, the right wing just kicked his butt.”
“So I say the 99 times I don’t agree with the president, I’m going to give him hell. But on this one, I’ll give him a salute and applause,” Jones continued.
“We’ve got to come together to help the people at the bottom.”
Jones also thanked the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, for the role he played in earning Trump’s support for the bill.
“Well, you know obviously Jared Kushner — his father went to prison,” Jones replied when Lemon asked him how the bill came to Trump’s attention. “He’s been a passionate advocate on this issue for a while … President Trump said, ‘Listen — if this is going to make the streets safer, if it’s going to give people a fairer chance, some of these forgotten men and women … let’s do something.’”
Jones also trashed Obama for failing to make enough progress on criminal justice reform.
“And we held out for way too much under Obama and wound up getting nothing,” Jones lamented.
“So I think now we’re learning a little bit. Let’s take that first step, let’s break the log jam, let’s show that we can work together and get something done.”
Not long ago, Jones was bashing Trump as a “racist” for his criticism of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), who is black, during the final days of the 2018 midterm elections.
But Jones sang Trump’s praises on Twitter as well as on Thursday during a segment on “CNN Newsroom.”
“Character test for us progressives: how many will give @realDonaldTrump any credit? I will,” Jones tweeted Wednesday.
More importantly, dozens of groups representing formerly incarcerated people ALSO support the bill. Ditto many law enforcement groups. People finally coming together to do right thing. Character test for us progressives: how many will give @realDonaldTrump any credit? I will. https://t.co/uBx5XZ8YJl
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) November 14, 2018
“Give the man his due: @realDonaldTrump is on his way to becoming the uniter-in-chief on an issue that has divided America for generations. Congrats to everyone on both sides who fought for this,” Jones added.
Give the man his due: @realDonaldTrump is on his way to becoming the uniter-in-Chief on an issue that has divided America for generations. Congrats to everyone on both sides who fought for this. #FIRSTSTEPact #CriminalJusticeSummit #CriminalJusticeReform #justicereform #Trump https://t.co/G9kI1C3gXy
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) November 14, 2018
Jones told CNN anchor Poppy Harlow on Thursday that “you‘ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
“So I said to myself, if Donald Trump ever does anything praiseworthy, I’m going to praise him. And I’ll praise him,” Jones insisted.
When Harlow asked Jones if he thought Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would ever bring the bill to a vote on the Senate floor, he replied, “Listen, Jared Kushner also deserves an awful lot of credit. His father went to prison. He took this very personally. He went to bat many, many times to keep this thing alive.”
“And I think when Trump is sitting there and hearing law enforcement saying this will make streets safer, he’s hearing civil rights leaders saying this is fair — I think there’s an opportunity to get something done,” Jones concluded.
“I don’t think McConnell can stand in the way of this much bipartisan momentum.”
Check out the video below: