Kanye West, in red ‘MAGA’ hat, de­liv­ers sur­real Oval Of­fice show

Cecil Whig - - OBITUARIES & NATIONAL - By CATHER­INE LUCEY As­so­ci­ated Press writer Jill Colvin con­trib­uted to this re­port.

As­so­ci­ated Press

— Live from the Oval Of­fice, it’s Kanye West with a jaw-drop­ping per­for­mance.

The rap­per didn’t rap. But, seated across from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at the Res­o­lute Desk, the mu­si­cian de­liv­ered a ram­bling, mul­ti­part mono­logue Thurs­day that touched on so­cial is­sues, hy­dro­gen planes, men­tal health, en­dorse­ment deals, pol­i­tics and oh so much more.

Seiz­ing the spot­light from the typ­i­cally cen­ter-stage pres­i­dent, West dropped the F-word, floated pol­icy pro­pos­als — and went in for a hug.

“They tried to scare me to not wear this hat,” West said of his red “Make Amer­ica Great Again” cap. But, he said, “This hat, it gives me power in a way.”

“You made a Su­per­man cape for me,” he told Trump.

It was a sur­real scene even by the stan­dards of a non­con­ven­tional White House. The un­likely al­lies spoke to re­porters be­fore a closed-door lunch that had been billed as a fo­rum to dis­cuss pol­icy is­sues in­clud­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing, gangs, prison re­form and vi­o­lence in Chicago, where West grew up. Spec­ta­tors at the show in­cluded Trump’s son-in-law and top ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner, former NFL star Jim Brown, the at­tor­ney for a gang leader serv­ing time in fed­eral prison, and a gag­gle of re­porters.

Dur­ing one pause, Trump seemed to ac­knowl­edge the odd­ness of the mo­ment, say­ing, “That was quite some­thing.”

West’s men­tal health has been a ques­tion of spec­u­la­tion since he was hos­pi­tal­ized in 2016. In a bizarre per­for­mance last month on “Satur­day Night Live” he de­liv­ered an un­scripted pro-Trump mes­sage af­ter the cred­its rolled.

Ad­dress­ing the topic Thurs­day, West said he had at one point been di­ag­nosed with bipo­lar dis­or­der, but was later told by a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist he’d been mis­di­ag­nosed.

“So he said that I ac­tu­ally wasn’t bipo­lar; I had sleep de­pri­va­tion, which could cause de­men­tia 10 to 20 years from now, where I wouldn’t even re­mem­ber my son’s name,” he said.

The con­ver­sa­tion be­gan with an ex­change on North Korea among Trump, Brown and West. Trump said the re­gion was headed for war be­fore he took over, and West com­mended him for stop­ping it. Brown said he liked North Korea; Trump agreed.

From there, West dis­cussed prison re­form and vi­o­lence in in­ner-city Chicago. He brought up Larry Hoover, the leader of the Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples who is serv­ing a life sen­tence for mur­der,


claim­ing: “The rea­son why they im­pris­oned him is be­cause he started do­ing pos­i­tive for the com­mu­nity. He started show­ing that he ac­tu­ally had power, he wasn’t just one of a mono­lithic voice, that he could wrap peo­ple around.”

West said he “loved Hil­lary” Clin­ton, Trump’s 2016 Demo­cratic ri­val, be­cause he loves ev­ery­one, but said he con­nected with Trump’s “male en­ergy.” He also crit­i­cized the 13th Amend­ment, which abol­ished slav­ery, call­ing it a “trap door.”

Hold­ing out his phone, West showed Trump a pic­ture of a hy­dro­gen-pow­ered plane that he thought should re­place Air Force One.

“This right here is the iPlane 1,” he said. “This is what our pres­i­dent should be fly­ing.”

Added West: “If he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our pres­i­dent. He has to be the fresh­est, the fly­est” and have “the fly­est planes.”

West also had a sar­to­rial sug­ges­tion for Trump, propos­ing a hat that says just “Make Amer­ica Great” — drop­ping the “again.”

At the end of West’s lengthy, some­times-hard-to-fol­low di­a­logue, even Trump seemed at a loss.

“I tell you what: That was pretty im­pres­sive,” the pres­i­dent said.

“It was from the soul,” West replied. “I just chan­neled it.”

West later told re­porters of his ver­bal stylings: “You are tast­ing a fine wine that has mul­ti­ple notes to it. You bet­ter play 4D chess with me . ... It’s com­plex.”

Tak­ing ques­tions from re­por ters, the rap­per also voiced con­cern about stopand-frisk polic­ing. Trump this week called on Chicago to em­brace the tac­tic, which al­lowed po­lice to de­tain, ques­tion and search civil­ians with­out prob­a­ble cause, though it was deemed un­con­sti­tu­tional in New York City be­cause of its over­whelm­ing im­pact on mi­nor­ity res­i­dents.

Trump said they’d dis­cuss the mat­ter and he’d keep an open mind.

Asked about his com­ments in 2005 that Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush didn’t “care about black peo­ple” af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, West said that “We need to care about all peo­ple” and that he “was pro­gramed to think in a vic­tim­ized men­tal­ity.”

Trump and West pre­vi­ously ap­peared to­gether shortly af­ter Trump’s 2016 elec­tion in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.

Asked what the two had talked about dur­ing their De­cem­ber meet­ing, West re­sponded briefly that time: “Life. We dis­cussed life.”

While Trump has been shunned by much of the Hol­ly­wood es­tab­lish­ment, he has a fan in West, who tweeted ear­lier this year that the two share “dragon en­ergy.”

“You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon en­ergy. He is my brother,” West wrote.

West is mar­ried to re­al­ity tele­vi­sion star Kim Kar­dashian West, who suc­cess­fully pushed Trump to grant a par­don to a drug of­fender ear­lier this year.

West him­self has sug­gested he might be open to wad­ing into pol­i­tics, in­clud­ing a run for pres­i­dent in 2020.

Asked if West could be a fu­ture pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Trump said, “Could very well be.” West shot back, “Only af­ter 2024.”

Af­ter all that, the pres­i­dent brought the show to a close by sug­gest­ing, “Let’s go have some lunch, OK?”


Rap­per Kanye West smiles as he lis­tens to a ques­tion from a re­porter dur­ing a meet­ing in the Oval Of­fice of the White House with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Thurs­day, Oct. 11, in Wash­ing­ton.

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