Trump: I'll overrule Sessions on criminal justice reform

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralia recognizes West Jerusalem as Israeli capital, won't move embassy Mulvaney will stay on as White House budget chief Trump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law MORE on Thursday said he would overrule Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump, Christie met to discuss chief of staff job: report Chief justice of California Supreme Court leaves GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation Trump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report MORE if he tries to stymie efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system.  

“If he doesn't, then he gets overruled by me,” Trump said when asked during an interview with “Fox & Friends” about Sessions's opposition to the effort.

“There has to be a reform because it's very unfair right now,” the president added. “It's very unfair to African-Americans. It's very unfair to everybody. And it's also very costly.”

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Sessions, a law-and-order candidate who became estranged from Trump over the Russia probe, played a role in successfully urging the president to put off action on criminal justice reform before the midterm elections.  

But Trump now appears to have made the issue a top priority thanks in large measure to the advocacy of senior White House adviser, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerNo reason to assume American relations with Mexico are rocky GOP lawmaker predicts Kushner will be Trump’s next chief of staff Ocasio-Cortez mocks idea Kushner could be Trump's chief of staff MORE, his son in law.

“Jared Kushner has kept the president  in the loop and today’s statements by the president are indicative that he’s interested in this issue and is the one that will make the final decision,” said a person familiar with the discussion, who added that Kushner has briefed the president regularly on the matter.  

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda Senate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill Top security officials issue stark warning of Chinese espionage efforts MORE (R-Iowa), Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate heads toward floor fight on criminal justice bill Megyn Kelly on Mika Brzezinski's comment controversy: 'I hope she's forgiven' McConnell sets Monday test vote on criminal justice bill MORE (D-Ill.) and other lawmakers have also urged Trump to support criminal-justice legislation in Congress.

Trump's comments came hours before he was scheduled to have lunch with the rapper Kanye West and former NFL star Jim Brown, who are expected to urge Trump to move forward with sentencing and prison reforms. 

The president heaped praise on West and Brown, saying the support from the rapper caused his approval among African-Americans to shoot up "like 25 percent" because "he's got a big following in the African-American community." 

"First of all, I like him a lot," Trump said of West. "He's a friend of mine. I've known him for a long time. He's a different kind of guy. He's a very different kind of a guy, I say that in a positive way."

West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, played an active role in persuading Trump to grant clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother who was serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense committed in the early 1990s.

Trump said Kardashian “brought the attention to Mrs. Johnson” and said it was unfair that she received such a long sentence.

The president also noted prison reform efforts in Texas and Georgia.

Criminal justice reform appears to have fresh momentum on Capitol Hill as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump touts ruling against ObamaCare: ‘Mitch and Nancy’ should pass new health-care law Federal judge in Texas strikes down ObamaCare Ocasio-Cortez: By Lindsey Graham's 1999 standard for Clinton, Trump should be impeached MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that he would bring the issue to the floor after the Nov. 6 election if it has enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

“We’re going to try real hard to get it done,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Hill Wednesday.