Kanye: “This is Our President!”
Kanye West’s luncheon at the White House with President Trump was all the stuff of reality television, but, in actual reality. Despite the pro-incarceration, Blue Lives Matter politics of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the President has taken a more progressive tone on criminal justice issues.
During an interview with “Fox & Friends” about Sessions’ opposition to criminal justice reform efforts this morning, President Trump said he would overrule Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he tries to stymie efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system.
“If he doesn’t, then he gets overruled by me.” Trump added, “There has to be a reform because it’s very unfair right now,” the president added. “It’s very unfair to African-Americans. It’s very unfair to everybody. And it’s also very costly.”
Trump has long referred to the city of Chicago as little more than a tragedy. Speaking at an international gathering of police on Monday, Trump said that he’s asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office to “go to the great city of Chicago to help straighten out the terrible shooting wave.”
There was not overwhelming public optimism about the outcome of today’s luncheon, nevertheless, the depth of discussion of the White House luncheon has been under heavy speculation. Originally reported Monday by the Times, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated topics of discussion would include police violence among other criminal justice reform issues. However, in the hours prior to the luncheon, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley offered a much narrower, ‘friendly’ slew of agenda items to be covered.
Gidley stated the discussion would be centered on Trump’s “historic work to benefit all Americans such as urban revitalization, the creation of Opportunity Zones, new workforce training programs, record highs in African American employment, the creation of manufacturing jobs, ideas from his meeting with African American pastors, potential future clemencies, and addressing the massive violent crime surge in Chicago.”
At one moment, the Chicago-born rapper seemed to target policy, offering his disapproval of stop-and-frisk. However, West was unaware of President Trump’s vehement promotion of the ineffective measure. The rapper quickly backtracked and apologized, stating he didn’t mean to put the President “on blast.” Trump quickly squashed the potential conflict and conceded, surprisingly enough, that he was open to all reform ideas.
“This is our President…he has to be the freshest, the flyest.”
From then on, the Yeezus-Trump bromance was in unstoppable full effect. West went on a style of rant as only he can, talking about his public persecution for MAGA memorabilia. Emphatically, West blurted out with hands waving wildly, “When I put this (MAGA) hat on, it makes me feel like Superman!”
Elaborating on his appreciation for the President, he continued to voice his endorsement, saying, “This is our President…he has to be the freshest, the flyest.”
Off the agenda, apparently, was the Department of Justice’s federal court filing against the independent monitoring of police in Chicago. The effort was on track to begin after the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois reached an agreement that independent monitoring was necessary per the findings of an investigative report on officer misconduct within the department, which found Chicago police treated people, particularly minorities, “as animals or subhuman.”
Trump is right that Chicago has started to move away from aggressive policing strategies, including stop and frisk, in recent years — as it begins to reform a police department that the US Department of Justice found treated people, particularly minorities, “as animals or subhuman.” But virtually everything else that Trump said is wrong.
The President wrapped the luncheon telling photographers in the room that West was welcome to visit with him at any time. Just last week, a jury convicted Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke for the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
@thesimonecherie is a published author and libertarian justice reform activist; she has delivered guest commentary on a variety of cable and online media outlets including CNN’s New Day, NPR, Washington Post and BET News.