WASHINGTON — Rapper Kanye West declared President Trump is “on his hero’s journey” during an Oval Office get-together in which Trump indicated he could be flexible to West’s ideas on criminal justice and police reform.
Trump and West sat down for a private dining room lunch of caprese salad with balsamic glaze along with roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and sautéed asparagus. They were joined by NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
The White House said the discussion would be centered on “urban revitalization, the creation of Opportunity Zones, new workforce training programs, record highs in African-American employment, the creation of manufacturing jobs, ideas from [Trump’s] meeting with African-American pastors, potential future clemencies, and addressing the massive violent crime surge in Chicago.”
“A lot of times it’s just the overall lack of reparations that we — at any given point, we say this is racist, this is racist, this is racist, this is racist. So, we don’t have reparations, but we have the 13th Amendment. We’ve got to open up the whole conversation,” West said at an Oval Office media availability with Trump before lunch. “One of the moves I love that liberals try to do — a liberal would try to control a black person through the concept of racism because they know that we are very proud, emotional people. So, when I say, ‘I like Trump’ to, like, someone that’s liberal, they’ll say, ‘oh, but he’s racist.’ You think racism can control me? Oh, that won’t stop me, that’s an invisible wall.”
West added that he won’t “answer questions that are simple soundbites” as “you are tasting a fine wine that has multiple notes to it.”
“You better play 4-D chess with me like it’s Minority Report, cause it ain’t that simple. It’s complex,” he said.
On the subject of violence in Chicago, West said “stop-and-frisk does not help the relationships in the city” and “another thing is opening up industries, and we’ve got to get some tax breaks too.” West grew up in the Chicago suburbs and recently decided to relocate his business there.
“The problem is illegal guns. Illegal guns are the problem, not — not — not legal guns. We have the right to bear arms,” West said.
When a reporter noted that Trump has said he supports stop-and-frisk, West said, “We’re going to discuss it. I didn’t mean to put you on blast like that, bro.”
“I’m open-minded, I’m here. I am open-minded,” Trump said. “He can speak for me anytime he wants. He’s been a great guy, he’s a smart cookie, smart. He gets it.”
Trump said West “could very well be” a future presidential candidate. West said it would be “only after 2024.”
The rapper noted that he “made a hat that says make America great again, but I would love to see at the Super Bowl Trump wearing the make America great hat, Colin making the — wearing the make America great and showing that we can bend a bit on this side, we can bend a bit on this side and we can learn how to be valuable in the infinite universe that we are, and the loving beings that we are.”
West said his red MAGA hat “made me feel like Superman” and said Hillary Clinton’s “I’m With Her” 2016 campaign slogan “just didn’t make me feel as a guy, that didn’t get to see my dad all the time, like a guy that could play catch with his son.”
Trump asked West how it felt to be in the Oval Office; West replied that he felt “good energy in this.”
“You are so respected, and what Kanye’s doing has been incredible. All over the world they’re talking about this, and I have to tell you, I had important meetings today with senators and with everything, nobody cared. They wanted this meeting, this is the meeting, is that right?” Trump said.
“I’m in Chicago a lot, too. I have nice things in Chicago, you know that, right? And I hate to see what’s happening. They’re having numbers — the numbers of people being shot and killed, and it’s — it’s not — it’s not for this country,” the president added. “So they have to do something, and I am totally open — if we can do it a different way, Kanye, I’m totally open. But they have to do — I mean we all agree they have to do something, that’s for sure.”
In a Monday speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla., Trump said he’s urged the Justice Department work with local authorities to implement “stop-and-frisk” in Chicago.
“The crime spree has a terrible blight on that city, and we will do everything possible to get it done,” Trump said. “It works and it was meant for problems like Chicago. It was meant for it. Stop-and-frisk.”
“Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York City had a very strong program of stop-and-frisk and it went from an unacceptably dangerous city to one of the safest cities in the country,” he added. “And I think the safest big city in the country. So it works.”