Donald Trump’s State of the Union guests include freed drug offender and a bullied student – Donald Trump’s America
The White House’s guests at the State of the Union will sit with First Lady Melania Trump. (Reuters: Yuri Gripas)
A woman freed from federal prison after President Donald Trump cut short her life sentence for drug offences and a Delaware, US boy allegedly bullied because his last name is Trump headline a varied group of 13 guests who have been invited to sit with first lady Melania Trump for the State of the Union address.
- SOTU guests are selected to represent policies presidents will promote during their address
- Last year, Mr Trump commuted Alice Marie Johnson’s life sentence for drug offences
- Joshua Trump is an 11-year-old who is bullied for sharing the President’s last name
Guests the White House invites to the State of the Union typically serve to help put a face on policies the president will promote in the nationally televised address.
Alice Marie Johnson, 63, served more than two decades of a life sentence without parole before Mr Trump commuted her sentence last year.
Ms Johnson’s case was championed by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who personally lobbied Mr Trump in the Oval Office.
Kim Kardashian West lobbied for Ms Johnson, who was given a life sentence despite being a first-time, non-violent drug offender. (Twitter: Donald Trump)
Ms Johnson was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking ring.
Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, rejected her appeals, and her requests for clemency had been rejected by President Barack Obama, who during eight years in office commuted the sentences of hundreds of federal inmates convicted of drug crimes.
Ms Johnson’s case spotlights legislation Mr Trump signed into law last year to address concerns about the criminal justice system, including giving judges more discretion in sentencing some drug offenders.
Delaware’s Brandywine School District said last year that steps had been taken to support Joshua Trump, an 11-year-old middle-school student who reportedly had been bullied for years because he shares the President’s last name.
“They curse at him, they call him an idiot, they call him stupid,” Joshua’s mother, Megan Trump, told American broadcaster WPVI in December.
“He said he hates himself, and he hates his last name, and he feels sad all the time.”
Fox News reported that boy’s school acknowledged the bullying was an issue, and changed Joshua’s Trump’s name in their school system to his father’s name.
Bullying prevention is a key element of an initiative Mrs. Trump named “Be Best”.
Other guests will represent Mr Trump’s opposition to illegal immigration, his push to halt human trafficking across the US-Mexico border, efforts to stem the deadly opioid addiction epidemic and his economic policies.
Joshua Trump’s school district reportedly changed his name in the school system to decrease bullying. (White House)
The remaining guests are:
- Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong and Madison Armstrong, the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter, respectively, of a Reno, Nevada, couple allegedly killed in their home last month by a person illegally in the US
- Matthew Charles, a Tennessee man who was among the first prisoners released under the First Step criminal justice legislation Mr Trump signed in December
- Grace Eline, a nine-year-old brain cancer survivor
- Ashley Evans, a former opioid addict nearing one year and one month of sobriety who hopes to be reunited with her daughter full-time
- Elvin Hernandez, a special agent with the Homeland Security Department’s human trafficking unit
- Roy James, plant manager of a lumber facility in Vicksburg, Mississippi, that the White House says was reopened under provisions in Mr Trump’s tax cut legislation
- Timothy Matson, a Pittsburgh police officer and SWAT team member who was shot multiple times while responding to the deadly October 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in which 11 people were killed
- Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Tree of Life Synagogue
- Tom Wibberley, father of Navy seaman Craig Wibberley, who was killed in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen