It was toward the end of an hourlong meeting in January on proposed criminal justice reforms and President Trump’s interest was beginning to wane. Reed Cordish, then a White House adviser, was one of a dozen people in the Roosevelt Room. He decided to interject.
Cordish told Trump that prisoners were the kind of forgotten people the president had promised to represent, and that backing changes to the federal prison system was an opportunity to help.
“Everyone kind of stopped, and he was looking at me for what seemed like a really long time, and he said ‘You’re right,’” Cordish recalled.
By that point Cordish, who left the White House in March to return to his family’s...