The Slatest

Kanye West Said Some Wacky Stuff in the Oval Office, and Voting Rights Are Being Dismantled for a Generation

Kanye West, standing and wearing a MAGA hat, shakes hands with Donald Trump, seated at the desk in the Oval Office, as photographers in the background take their picture.
President Donald Trump meets with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office on Oct. 11.
Sebastian Smith/Getty Images

On Thursday, President Donald Trump invited popular musical artist and entrepreneur Kanye West to the Oval Office. West, the creator of such megahits as “Gold Digger” and “Black Skinhead,” spoke at length before an assembly of reporters as he sat across from Trump at the Resolute Desk. He wore Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hat and said some truly wild stuff!

“There’s theories that there’s infinite amounts of universe, and there’s alternate universe,” West reportedly said while encouraging the president to commute the sentence of someone he knows. No one man should have all that power!

Also on Thursday, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp blamed his opponent in that state’s gubernatorial race for “manufacturing outrage” over the recent news that Kemp was using the power of his office to purge hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls and block tens of thousands of mostly black voters from re-registering. “Abrams is afraid to run on her extreme record so she manufactures outrage off a ‘problem’ she created,” Kemp said of Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who is campaigning to become the first black woman elected governor in the United States and is seeing many of her would-be constituents disenfranchised by her opponent because of their skin color.

Meanwhile, at the Oval Office, West was seen typing his password into his phone. That password was 000000. LOL!

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that after purging 1.4 million voter registrations from the rolls since 2012 and 670,000 registrations in the last year alone, Kemp was refusing to re-register 53,000 voters because of the state’s “exact match” verification law that requires names on applications to match exactly those on file with the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. Of those not being allowed to re-register, nearly 70 percent were black. (Georgia’s total population is about 32 percent black.)

During his White House visit, West reportedly stepped around the Resolute Desk to give the president a hug and say, “I love this guy!”

Kemp’s blatant attack on the rights of black Georgians was made possible in part by the 2013 Supreme Court ruling Shelby County v. Holder, which ended the Voting Rights Act’s federal preclearance requirement in certain states for voting changes that might discriminate against minority voters. The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division could still investigate Kemp’s disenfranchisement plan, but that seems unlikely given that Trump is a vocal Kemp supporter and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been extremely supportive of voter purges.

It’s possible, though, that a future West administration takes a different approach to voting rights! During his meeting with Trump, West said he would consider running for president. “Only after” Trump will have left office in 2024, though, West insisted. He got that ambition, baby, look at his eyes!

By 2024, it seems likely that many states will have further suppressed voting rights to such a degree that it could entrench Republican rule for years, no matter what a healthy majority of the population wants. Just this summer, the court voted 5–4 to allow Ohio’s voter purge system, which could serve as a further model for Georgia and other states, to remain in place. And Brett Kavanaugh—who was elevated to the Supreme Court after the Senate and the White House declined to properly investigate multiple credible allegations of sexual assault and likely perjury in his Senate testimony—is poised to join the court’s hard-liners in upholding voting restrictions that disproportionately affect minority voters in extreme ways. As election expert Richard Hasen has previously written in Slate, the court this summer set the burden for proving discrimination on voters, who now have to meet the almost impossible bar of demonstrating discriminatory effect and intent. Kavanaugh could join Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch in a bloc saying that outright racial discrimination in redistricting will be totally cool now, pushing the court further to the right.

“We have to release the love,” West said in the Oval Office on Thursday. “We don’t have the reparations but we have the 13th Amendment,” he added.

“I don’t answer questions in simple sound bites. You are tasting a fine wine,” Kanye said also of his White House discourse. “It has complex notes to it.”

The president responded that Kanye “can speak for me anytime he wants.”

“He’s a smart cookie,” the president continued. “He gets it.”

There was other voting rights news just this week as well, as the Supreme Court refused to block a North Dakota voter restriction that would prevent thousands of the state’s Native Americans from voting in this November’s crucial Senate election. Thanks in part to this broad-based attack on voting rights, Republicans seem poised to maintain control of the Senate for at least another four years, which could allow them to confirm yet more hard-line Supreme Court justices, who would allow even more extreme voter crackdowns that disproportionately affect minorities, which could affect the voting rights of millions of Americans for generations.

Oh, and yes, Kanye West was at the White House! That shit cray!