“Not even the most experienced journalists could resist a hint of scorn: “Trump Meets With Kim. Kim Kardashian West, That Is,” one headline read. Another: “Welcome to 2018: President Donald Trump Just Met With Kim Kardashian.”
Kardashian West had gone to the White House to plead the case of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman who’d served more than two decades in prison on nonviolent drug charges. When Trump commuted her sentence a week later, the moment came and went like a season finale. Recapped, critiqued, forgotten.
The truth is the meeting between two celebrities (one, breaker of the Internet; the other, president of the United States) was planned over months, and behind it was a woman whose name and narrative—the public defender turned Kardashian “konfidante”—don’t fit in a headline.
Kardashian West was 16 the first time she tapped Shawn Holley for her legal expertise. The women had met two years earlier, when Johnnie Cochran assigned Holley to the “dream team” that would defend O.J. Simpson. Holley was one of the most junior in a group that included Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, and Robert Kardashian. The case lasted 16 months.
By the time it was over and Simpson was acquitted, Kardashian West had come to see her father’s coworker as a cross between a role model and a relative. (“Oh my gosh,” she remembers thinking, “I just want to be like her.”) Holley became so close to the clan that she’d sometimes meet Kardashian West for lunch or to take her to Billy Blanks dance classes in Sherman Oaks. For their part, the Kardashians invited Holley to parties at their home. (The practice continues even now; the most recent photos on Holley’s phone include scenes from a barbecue on Kourtney Kardashian’s lawn).”