WASHINGTON – As I was exiting the Oval Office on Thursday, after covering President Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West’s Chicago flavored stream of consciousness, crazy like a fox monologue, West asked me a question.
How did I feel, he wanted to know, asking twice.
The White House handlers whose job it is to hustle reporters out of the Oval deferred to West for a few moments so he could get an answer.
I was, of course, still processing the extraordinary wild spectacle of West, raised in Chicago, bouncing from topic to topic while paying extreme, obsequious homage to Trump.
The “Saturday Night Live” writers who made this the cold open on Saturday incorporated a lot of what West actually said in their sketch because they could not improve on his material.
Much has been made of the bizarre aspects of the meeting.
As off the wall as the session was, there was much that is of specific interest to Chicago, which is worth amplifying.
On the backstory about City Hall’s bid to influence the West-Trump meeting:
Trump and his administration has been singularly focused on crime in Chicago, last week opposing pending and already implemented agreements to address police misconduct and the race-based use of stop-and-frisk.
West told Trump, “I just talked to the superintendent; met with Michael Sacks; that’s Rahm’s right-hand man,” a reference to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s major donor and adviser and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
West went on to tell Trump they all met at the Soho House in Chicago on Wednesday night.
That Soho House meeting was not the first Sacks had with West, Sacks confirmed. West has said he wants to be more involved in Chicago, so I get why City Hall wants an open communications channel and why Sacks has the West portfolio.
After the White House announced the meeting, Sacks confirmed he reached out to West to set up a briefing with Johnson about the need to maintain curbs on stop-and-frisk and the city’s improved crime statistics.
West was the one who suggested the meeting take place at the Soho House in the West Loop.
Sacks confirmed that there was no “ask,” but the Soho summit did result in West bringing up the crime drop and stop-and-frisk.
Here’s the Adidas/West/Chicago backstory:
West, who designs the successful Yeezy shoe line for Adidas, told Trump, “And I went to Kasper. We had a meeting in Chicago. And I said, ‘You have to bring manufacturing onshore,’” to Chicago.
That’s a reference to the Adidas CEO, Kasper Rorsted, who met with West in Chicago on Wednesday.
Will West be able to influence Adidas and get the German firm to open a plant in Chicago?
More on West’s clemency plea for gang leader Larry Hoover:
The influence that West and his wife, reality show star Kim Kardashian West, have in the Trump White House is astounding.
Last June, after Kardashian lobbied Trump, he commuted the life sentence of non-violent drug offender Alice Johnson.
As it happened, on Thursday, Kardashian and Johnson were reunited to talk about prison reform and mass incarceration at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
On the same day, West was across the country at the White House pleading for the release of Hoover.
Hoover is the infamous imprisoned Gangster Disciple kingpin.
It is amazing that West had the clout to get Justin Moore, Hoover’s Dallas-based attorney, into a presidential meeting.
Moore told me afterward that a colleague – a member of Johnson’s legal team – was the link to the Kardashian/West/Trump connection.
It’s not clear if Trump was briefed on Hoover beforehand from officials with the facts based on the exchange.
Trump: “What did he do? Larry? What happened?
Moore: “Why was he in?”
Trump: “Yes, tell me. Tell us. “
Moore: “Allegedly, it’s for conspiracy from prison – from state prison. You know, it’s alleged. But we do believe even if he did commit those crimes, the sentence was overly broad and too strict.”
Trump: “What was the sentence?”
Moore: “Six consecutive life sentences in the most secure prison in the world, also known as ‘a clean version of hell,’ for basically an economic crime.”
Fact Check: In 1997 Hoover was convicted in federal court of running a drug enterprise from state prison.
West is staring intently at me, pressing me about how I “feel.”
Everyone welcomes ideas to reduce Chicago crime, I said.
Preventing crime should “transcend politics.” Referring to the riff I just witnessed, I told West, “if this helps, it helps.”