Kanye requests clemency for Gangster Disciples kingpin Larry Hoover, talks ways to combat Chicago violence during White House visit with Trump
WASHINGTON — Wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap, rapper Kanye West, in a wide-ranging, free-flowing session with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office Thursday, talked about ways to reduce crime in Chicago and pressed the president to grant clemency to notorious Gangster Disciples kingpin Larry Hoover, who is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Colorado.
West also confronted Trump over his call earlier in the week to give Chicago police more stop-and-frisk powers and told Trump bluntly that push “does not help.” West also told Trump, who consistently accuses city officials of not being able to adequately address crime, “Actually, our murder rate is going down by 20 percent.”
On Monday, Trump told a convention of police chiefs that a pact between the Chicago Police Department and the ACLU of Illinois to curb stop-and-frisk abuses by police was “terrible.”
On Thursday, the remarkable session in the Oval Office with an unscripted West, one of Trump’s most famous African-American supporters, who was raised in Chicago, unfolded like a reality television episode.
Trump sat behind his Resolute Desk during the meeting, facing West. Hall of Fame NFL running back Jim Brown and his daughter, as well as Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were also there.
After what amounted to a monologue of about 10 minutes, where West brought up everything from hydrogen-powered planes to Hoover, I asked the rapper a question: What did he want Trump to do for Chicago?
In reply, West said he met Wednesday night at Soho House in the West Loop with Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Michael Sacks, a close friend of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In the hourlong meeting, Johnson laid out the city’s position in opposition to stop and frisk. West then came to the Oval Office and told Trump his views on Chicago policing were wrong.
“We feel that stop and frisk does not help the relationships in the city,” West said. “And everyone that knew I was coming here said, ‘Ask about stop and frisk.’ ” And with that, Trump switched gears. “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,” Trump said.
Trump did not comment about the plea for Hoover.
Bringing up clemency for Hoover — and having the clout to bring his attorney Justin Moore to the meeting — seemed to me a bit of a mixed message for West.
West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, the reality show star, in June won a commutation for Alice Johnson, a nonviolent drug offender, after
pleading her case in a private meeting with Trump. Trump said he was looking for more people like Alice Johnson to help. But Hoover is no Alice Johnson. He has a long, violent criminal history.
In a stream of consciousness riff, West said of Hoover, “There’s infinite amounts of universe and there’s alternate universe so it’s very important for me to get Hoover out because in an alternate universe, I am him and I have to go and get him free. Because he was doing positive inside Chicago just like I’m moving back to Chicago and it’s not just about, you know, getting on stage and being an entertainer and having a monolithic voice that’s forced to be a specific party, you know, people expect that if you’re black, you have to be Democrat.”
West: ‘We are going to make America great’
Earlier, at the start of the extraordinary meeting, West told Trump that when he put on his MAGA hat, “it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman.”
West said, “Trump is on his hero’s journey, right now. And, he might not have expected to have a crazy motherf----- like Kanye West run up and support, but best believe we are going to make America great.”
West tried to mediate a peace accord between Trump and football player Colin Kaepernick, whose taking a knee during the National Anthem created a wedge issue for Trump to exploit.
West said he wanted a cap that just said, “Make America Great.”
“I would love to see at the Super Bowl, Trump wearing the Make America Great hat, Colin 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 malleable in the infinite universe that we are, and the loving beings that we are . ... We are one unit, we are one country, we are one moment in history in time.”
Near the end of his visit, West walked behind the desk and hugged Trump.
Said West, “I love this guy.”
Kanye West (above and right), along with NFL legend Jim Brown, met with President Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday.