Trump told the reality TV star and wife of hip-hop mogul Kanye West in the Oval Office that the couple were boosting his popularity with African-Americans, according to two people familiar with the matter.
About a month before the meeting West praised Trump in a tweet, claiming that he and the president “are both dragon energy.” Trump later credited the April 25 West tweet with raising his approval rating among African-Americans, a group that has shown scant support for the president.
“Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 to 22 in one week,” Trump said May 4 at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Texas, without identifying the source of the data.
Trump appeared to be referring to data from a Reuters weekly tracking poll, in which the portion of black men approving of Trump rose from 11 percent the week ending April 22 to 22 percent for the week ending April 29. But Reuters considers the number of African-American respondents to those weekly polls too small to reliably indicate a shift in opinion.
Monthly data from the poll shows approval of Trump among African-Americans overall rising from 12 percent in April to 18 percent in May. Among black men, the president’s approval rose from 16 percent in April to 22 percent in May, according to the poll.
Kardashian, a star of the reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” met with Trump and White House adviser Jared Kushner to discuss her campaign to win a presidential pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman serving a life sentence without parole for a drug offense. Kardashian’s pitch didn’t get much immediate traction with the president, a person familiar with the meeting said.
The day after his meeting with Kardashian, Trump issued a full pardon to conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, and said he’s considering pardoning businesswoman Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He didn’t publicly mention Johnson that day.
Representatives for Kardashian didn’t immediately respond to questions.
In late April, West gushed over Trump: “You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy,” he tweeted. Kardashian, who has said she supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, asked her husband to clarify that West doesn’t “agree with everything Trump does.”
“Most people (including myself) have very different feelings & opinions about this,” Kardashian tweeted.
Kardashian, dressed in all black except for yellow stilettos, kept her face mostly expressionless on Wednesday when she was in view of the news media watching from the White House lawn and a White House photographer who snapped a picture of her behind the Resolute Desk with Trump.
She also met with Kushner, who has led a White House effort to build support for legislation that would help prisoners as they re-enter society and better develop work skills while they are incarcerated. Some critics of the effort say it doesn’t go far enough and want lawmakers to include reductions in sentencing guidelines, a step opposed by the White House and the Justice Department.
After the Oval Office meeting Wednesday, Kardashian tweeted: “I would like to thank President Trump for his time this afternoon. It is our hope that the President will grant clemency to Ms. Alice Marie Johnson who is serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense.”