President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump repeats claim without evidence that paid protesters disrupted his rallies Five takeaways from the final Tennessee Senate debate Trump rails against Dems at Pennsylvania rally as Hurricane Michael batters Florida MORE on Thursday hosted Kanye West for a wild meeting in the Oval Office days after the rapper made a public display of support for the president.
Trump said “Kanye has been a friend of mine for a long time” as West, who was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, sat across from him at the Resolute Desk.
The mercurial rap star then launched into a 10-minute, profane monologue touching on his own mental health struggles, the pitfalls of the prison system, the 13th Amendment, ways to improve life for African-Americans in inner cities, his relationship with sports apparel giant Adidas and a hydrogen-powered plane he said could replace Air Force One.
West’s fans are no strangers to his disjointed speeches, which he frequently delivers at his concerts. But Trump appeared surprised by West’s display inside the world’s most powerful room, sitting with his arms folded as he listened to the rapper speak.
“I’ll tell you what. That was pretty impressive, huh?” Trump said after West concluded, prompting laughter from others in the room. “That was quite something.”
The rapper acknowledged that the president might be surprised by his outspoken support.
“Trump is on his hero’s journey right now. He might not have thought he’d have a crazy motherf—-r like Kanye running up support,” he said.
The president was clearly pleased when West heaped praise on him. West credited Trump stopping a possible war with North Korea and described the president as something of a father figure to him, saying that growing up with his mother and father separated meant “there was not a lot of male energy in my home.”
West got out of his chair near the end of his remarks and gave Trump a side-hug. “I love this guy,” West said.
Kanye West with President Trump in Oval Office: “I love this guy right here.” pic.twitter.com/40Q24j5fRJ
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 11, 2018
The rap star also addressed the blowback he’s received in the entertainment industry for supporting Trump, who has been criticized for inflaming racial tensions with his comments about white nationalist violence and protesting NFL players, saying, “I have the balls to put on this hat.”
“What I need ‘Saturday Night Live’ to improve on and what I need liberals to improve on: If he don’t look good, we don’t look good,” the “Famous” rapper said of Trump. “This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest.”
“If he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president,” West says of President Trump pic.twitter.com/VoXNy5f6rp
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 11, 2018
Trump returned the favor, saying Kanye “can speak for me any time he wants. he’s a smart cookie. He gets it.”
“Could very well be,” Trump said when asked if West could run for president.
“Only after 2024,” West responded.
The bizarre scene played out as Trump and West were surrounded by dozens television cameras and journalists inside the Oval Office.
It created an awkward split-screen effect on cable news, as networks broke away from coverage of Hurricane Michael, which has killed two people and caused widespread property damage in the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history.
Trump is also embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally whose government has been accused of orchestrating the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi who fled to America due to his criticism of his home country’s government.
For days, however, Trump has been looking forward to his meeting with West, one of the few A-list celebrities to openly support his presidency. He spoke about it multiple times to reporters leading up to their get-together.
The president has repeatedly pointed to West’s support as a sign he is more popular among black people than the polls say. The president won 8 percent of the black vote in the 2016 election, according to exit polling, and Gallup’s tracking poll has long shown Trump’s support among African-Americans hovering between 10 and 15 percent.
Trump tweeted praise for West last week after he appeared on “Saturday Night Live” wearing one his signature red campaign hat and delivering an unscripted speech to the studio audience voicing support for Trump.
Like many, I don’t watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it) – no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems. Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told “no”), was great. He’s leading the charge!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2018
West is married to Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star who recently met with Trump to urge him to pardon a non-violent drug offender. The rapper urged Trump to grant clemency to Larry Hoover, a former gang leader who is currently serving a life sentence in federal prison but the president did not respond to his plea.
The White House said the meeting was called so that Trump and West could discuss manufacturing, urban revitalization, tamping down violent crime in Chicago and criminal-justice reform.
Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerVirginia Dem rips administration on Khashoggi McConnell looking at criminal justice reform after midterms Trump says he’s spoken with Saudi officials about missing journalist MORE, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser who has focused on prison reform, attended the meeting, as did his wife, Ivanka, who is also Trump’s daughter and a White House adviser.
Trump and West did not see eye-to-eye on every issue. When a reporter asked about Trump’s support for controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing tactics, West responded they would discuss it but said to Trump, “I didn’t mean to put you on blast like that, bro.”
“I’m open-minded here,” Trump said.
Former NFL star Jim Brown was also in attendance. Brown has long been outspoken about civil rights issues and has voiced support for the president. Brown, 82, spoke only briefly, saying it felt “good” to be in the Oval Office and that he looked forward to discussing their agenda.
The group later dined on a lunch of caprese salad and roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and asparagus, the White House told reporters.
—Updated at 2:20 p.m.