WEST WING

Kanye re­quests clemency for Gang­ster Dis­ci­ples king­pin Larry Hoover, talks ways to com­bat Chicago vi­o­lence dur­ing White House visit with Trump

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

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.”

AP, GETTY IM­AGES PHO­TOS

Kanye West (above and right), along with NFL leg­end Jim Brown, met with Pres­i­dent Trump in the Oval Of­fice on Thurs­day.

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