Kanye West touches on politics, love and 'iPlane 1' during bizarre Trump visit

President hosted working lunch with West and ex-NFL star Jim Brown to discuss criminal justice system and prison reform

There was cursing, there was a hug, there was a weird monologue that felt like it would never end. Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West displayed their celebrity bromance on Thursday in the strangest White House collision between politics and music since Richard Nixon hosted Elvis.

Rolling Stone’s website described it as simply: “The Craziest Oval Office Performance of All Time.”

West, 41, carved out his own niche in history by publicly uttering the word “motherfucker” in the office of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He referred to “infinite amounts of universe” and “alternative universe”. He talked about how he had been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder when in fact he was just sleep-deprived.

Ostensibly invited to the White House to discuss prison reform, West wore a red “Make America Great Again” cap as he sat across from the president at the Resolute Desk, surrounded by reporters and photographers. Trump, whose African American supporters are few and far between, boasted: “Kanye’s been a friend of mine for a long time.”

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West launched into an impassioned, zigzagging stream of consciousness that skipped through race relations, tax breaks, criminal justice and mental health, including the most peculiar justification yet of why he supports the president.

“My dad and my mom separated, so there was not a lot of male energy in my home, and also I’m married to a family that, you know, not a lot of male energy, going on – it’s beautiful though,” he said. “I love Hillary, I love everyone, right, but the campaign ‘I’m With Her’ 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.

“It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman. That’s my favorite superhero. You made a Superman cape for me.”

The rendezvous came less than two weeks after West made a public display of support for the president on the TV variety show Saturday Night Live. West took a swipe at the criticism he has received from many in the entertainment industry as a result.

Rising to his feet with phone in hand as cameras clicked and Trump looked on, he ranted: “What I need Saturday Night Live to improve on and what I need the liberals to improve on is, if he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president. He has to be the freshest, the flyest, the flyest planes, the best factories.”

To that end, he made the surprise proposal of a hydrogen-powered replacement for Air Force One called the “iPlane 1”.

When West was finally spent, Trump said: “I tell you what, that was pretty impressive, folks.” There was laughter in the room. “That was quite something.”

A TV journalist asked about Trump’s racial divisiveness. West veered off to attack liberals then challenged the reporter: “I don’t answer questions in simple soundbites. You are tasting a fine wine that has multiple notes to it. You’d better play 4D chess with me like it’s Minority Report because it ain’t that simple. It’s complex.”

Trump, arms folded, grinned broadly. Asked if he would like West to speak at one of his campaign rallies, he replied: “He can speak for me any time he wants. He’s a smart cookie. He gets it.”

Is West a future presidential candidate? Trump replied: “Could very well be.”

The rapper interjected: “Only after 2024. Let’s stop worrying about the future. All we really have is today. We just have today … Trump is on his hero’s journey right now and he might not have expected to have a crazy motherfucker like Kanye West run up and support but, best believe, we are going to make America great.”

Then Trump, who did not appear to mind playing second fiddle for once, had a question for West. How does it feel to be in the Oval Office. The rapper replied that it was “good energy”.

Towards the end of the odd encounter, West rose from his chair, came around the desk and side-hugged Trump. “I love this guy, right here, let me give this guy a hug right here,” he said. Trump gripped his hand and smiled.

Former professional football player Jim Brown, another Trump supporter, was also in attendance, along with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser who has focused on prison reform, and his wife, Ivanka Trump.

Hogan Gidley, White House deputy press secretary, said the president would host a “working lunch in the private dining room off the Oval Office” with West and Brown.

Over a lunch of caprese salad and roast chicken, Gidley said discussion would be centred on “President Trump’s historic work to benefit all Americans”.

In June, Trump commuted the life sentence of a woman for a first-time drug offense whose cause was taken up by West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West. Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old from Tennessee, had served more than 20 years in prison on drug conspiracy and money-laundering charges.


David Smith in Washington

The GuardianTramp

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