Shortly before his lunch meeting with rapper Kanye West and legendary pro football quarterback Jim Brown, Trump shared some kind words about West in an interview with Fox News, calling the Chicago rapper-producer a “genius” and saying that West “isn’t asking anything for himself” during Thursday’s meeting.
West is hoping to discuss prison reform, creating more job opportunities for ex-cons and strategies for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the Chicago area during a noon lunch with Trump, Brown and Jared Kushner.
“Those in the music business say he’s a genius, and that’s OK with me, because as far as I’m concerned, he is,” the president said during an interview Thursday on “Fox & Friends.”
“He’s not asking anything for himself. He’s not saying, ‘Hey, gee, I want to do this or that.'”
“He’s a private guy and he wants to help people – and maybe more than anything prison reform,” Trump said.
Trump said he agrees that prison reform is “necessary”.
“We do need reform. But that doesn’t mean easy. We’re going to make some categories tougher when it comes to drug dealing and other things,” he said. “It’s very unfair to African-Americans, it’s very unfair to everybody and it’s very costly.”
Asked about West’s controversial Saturday Night Live performance where he appeared on stage in a MAGA hat, Trump said he appreciates the support.
“When Kanye came out very strongly for me a number of months ago, something happened,” the president said. “Polls for me went up like 25 percent.”
“He’s got a big following in the African-American community … and I think he has in a lot of communities,” he continued.
West’s lunch with the president comes after his wife, Kim Kardashian, met with Trump in the Oval Office earlier this year to advocate for the release of Alice Johnson, a grandmother serving life for a non-violent drug crime. Trump eventually granted her clemency.