Prison reform on the menu for Kanye-Trump White House lunch
WASHINGTON — Kanye West is heading to the White House Thursday to have lunch with President Donald Trump and meet with his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Topics of discussion, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, “will include manufacturing resurgence in America, prison reform, how to prevent gang violence and what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago.”
West hopes to discuss two key issues during his visit at the White House: job opportunities for ex-convicts and ways to increase manufacturing jobs in and around his hometown of Chicago.
“He’s been a terrific guy,” Trump told reporters of West Tuesday afternoon on the White House South Lawn before departing for Iowa. “You know, he loves what we’re doing for African-American jobs, for so many different things. Median income, as you see, at an all-time high. Poverty level at the best rate — meaning the lowest rate so far. And Kanye is a smart guy. And he sees that.”
Trump added that West is bringing along NFL legend Jim Brown, a former star running back for the Cleveland Browns, for the meeting. Brown has previously discussed issues facing the African-American community with Trump.
Violence in Chicago is personal to West, who was raised in the Windy City, named his youngest child “Chicago,” and recently told a crowd that he is moving back, according to a video obtained by TMZ.
This will be West’s second meeting with Trump since the 2016 election; he previously visited with the then-President-elect at Trump Tower in December 2016. The two discussed multicultural issues, education and violence in Chicago, West tweeted at the time. Trump told reporters at Trump Tower that the they had been “friends for a long time.”
His wife, Kim Kardashian West, has been to the White House twice in recent months to discuss criminal justice reform and the clemency process. The reality star and entrepreneur was also instrumental in securing a commutation for Alice Marie Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence over non-violent drug charges.
West recently made waves by wearing Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat during an appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and delivering a pro-Trump speech after the show went off the air. He has previously said he would consider a presidential run in the future, and told a crowd in San Jose in 2016 that he didn’t vote in the election, but “would have voted for Trump.”
The tête-à-tête also comes the same week as West’s longtime rival, Taylor Swift, entered the political arena for the first time, encouraging her fans to register to vote and endorsing Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and House candidate Jim Cooper, also a Democrat. It appears at least political bad blood between the bestselling artists remains.