President Trump praised Kanye West as a “genius” on Thursday during an interview on the Fox News show Fox & Friends, teasing his upcoming White House meeting with the rapper. “First of all, I like him a lot,” he said of the emcee, who recently wore a MAGA hat and unleashed an unaired, pro-Trump rant during his Saturday Night Live spot.
“He’s been a friend of mine. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a very different kind of a guy – I say that in a positive way … Those that are in the music business say he’s a genius, and that’s OK with me because as far as I’m concerned he is.”
West has faced consistent criticism after expressing support for Trump, dating back to a November 2016 meeting with the then-president-elect at Trump Tower. Since then, he has repeatedly stood by his endorsement, including comments during an August interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
On Fox & Friends, Trump cited West’s support as a turning point in broadening the diversity of his base. “When Kanye came out very strongly a couple months ago, something happened – my polls went up 25 percent,” he said. “Nobody’s ever seen it. He has a big following in the African-American community. A big, big following.”
The New York Times reported this week that West will meet with Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, before his sit-down with the president. Topics of interest reportedly include job availability for former convicts and bringing back manufacturing jobs to West’s native Chicago.
Trump on Thursday will sign the copyright reform bill The Music Modernization Act into law alongside West, Kid Rock and other artists.