Kanye in the Oval: Hydrogen-Powered Planes and a ‘Superman’ MAGA Hat
(Bloomberg) -- Musician and fashion designer Kanye West had lunch with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, where they talked in front of reporters about West’s contract with Adidas AG, overhauling prison sentences, replacing Air Force One with a hydrogen-powered plane and other topics.
Invited to speak by Trump, West launched into a long, winding discourse, occasionally using profanity and slapping the Resolute Desk for emphasis.
He told Trump he had stopped a potential war with North Korea. “Nice of you to say that because that’s a big thing,” Trump responded.
West asked Trump to pardon Larry Hoover, the alleged founder of a notorious Chicago street gang who’s serving six life sentences in a federal supermax prison in Colorado.
“In an alternate universe I am him,” West said. “He was doing positive inside Chicago just like I’m moving back to Chicago and it’s not just about getting on stage and being an entertainer and having a monolithic voice that’s forced to be a specific party.
“People expect that if you’re black you have to be Democrat. I’ve had conversations that basically said welfare is the reason that people end up being a Democrat,” he added.
He said his “Make America Great Again” hat “gives me power, in a way.”
“I loved 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.”
West said the president had inspired him to sign a shoe design contract with Adidas. “You gave me the heart to go to Adidas,” he told Trump. “This Adidas thing made me a billionaire.”
Complaining about prison sentences, West said that people fall through a “trap door called the 13th amendment,” which abolished slavery.
“I did say ‘abolish’ with the hat on because why would you keep something around that’s a trap door?” he said “Would you build a trap door that if you mess us and you accidentally, something happens, you fall, and you end up next to the Unabomber?
West has previously said that the 13th Amendment should be amended because it allows for involuntary servitude or slavery as a criminal punishment.
“The four gentlemen that wrote the 13th Amendment, I think the way the universe works, it’s perfect. We don’t have 13 floors do we? The four gentlemen didn’t look like the people they were amending. Also at that point, it was illegal for blacks to read,” West continued.
“So that meant if you actually read the amendment, you’d actually get locked up! And turned into a slave again.
“We don’t need sentences, we need pardons. We need to talk to people,” he said.
He said he had been diagnosed bipolar, but was examined by a “neuropsychologist” who told him he was just sleep deprived and that he had tested in the “98 percentile” for IQ.
“The other ones 98 percent: Tesla, Freud,” he said. “We can empower the pharmaceuticals and make more money. That’s one thing, I’ve never stepped into a situation where I didn’t make people more money.”
He showed the president a video on his phone of a hydrogen-powered plane and said Trump should travel in it. “This right here is the iplane1,” he said. “This is what our president should be flying in.”
“We’ll get rid of Air Force One,” Trump responded.
"What I need Saturday Night Live to improve on, what I need the liberals to improve on is if he don’t look good, we don’t look good,” West said. “This is our president! He has to be the freshest, the fly-est, the fly-est planes, the best factories.
“Our best export is entertainment and ideas but when we make everything in China and not in America then we’re cheating on our country. And we’re putting people in a position to have to do illegal things, to end up in the cheapest factory ever -- the prison system.”
“I’ll tell you what, that was pretty impressive,” Trump said.
“It was from the soul, I just channeled it,” West responded.
Trump asked NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, who was also present, if he’d like to speak. “If he doesn’t look good, we don’t look good,” Brown repeated.
“That statement is amazing, huh?” Trump said. “Yeah, it makes a lot of sense,” Brown answered.
Then West resumed.
Black people worry about racism over industry, he said. “We want a brand over our own land.”
Commenting on police brutality, he said that if someone disrespects him he would have to shoot them. Police officers are just like us, he said.
“We have to release the love” in the country, he said.
Racism, he said, is an “invisible wall” in the country. The number one thing he wanted to discuss with Trump, he said, is “stop and frisk” law enforcement practices that allow police to stop and search people on the street.
West said he doesn’t think “stop and frisk” helps. Trump said last week Chicago should adopt the practice to combat high crime and murders in the city, but he told West “I’m open-minded, I’m here.”
West warned reporters that he doesn’t answer questions in sound bites. “You are tasting a fine wine that has multiple notes in it,” he said.
It’d be cool to have “Trump factories,” West added.
Returning to law enforcement issues and prison sentences, he called Hoover “a living statue” for black people.
“Illegal guns is the problem, not legal guns,” he said. “We have the right to bear arms.”
Trump asked West what he thought of the Oval Office. “It’s a good energy,” West said.
The two men hugged. “I love this guy,” West said.
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