White House’s Kushner confirms he met with Kanye West


White House adviser Jared Kushner on Thursday confirmed that he had met recently with entertainer Kanye West, who is seeking to get his name on ballots for the November 3 United States presidential election.

West is a supporter of Republican President Donald Trump, and some view his bid to run for president himself as intended to have a spoiling effect that would help Trump and hurt Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Asked whether he had discussed the campaign with West, Kushner told reporters at the White House: “We had a general discussion, more about policy”.

Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and an influential political adviser to the president, said he and West had known each other for some time and met when they both were in Colorado.

“We had a great discussion about a lot of things,” Kushner said. “He has some great ideas for what he’d like to see happen in the country, and that’s why he has the candidacy that he’s been doing. But again, there’s a lot of issues that the president’s championed that he admires, and it was just great to have a friendly discussion.”

West posted a tweet late Tuesday night saying they discussed a book on empowering Black Americans.

US presidential candidate Joe Biden announced this week that Senator Kamala Harris of California would be his running mate. Harris is the first Black woman and the first Indian-American to be part of a major-party presidential ticket [File: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters]

Biden served for eight years under President Barack Obama, the first Black man to hold that job.

The former vice president benefitted from strong support from Black voters in his quest to become the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

A West run for office could be seen as a manoeuvre to siphon some Black supporters away from Biden in the general election.

Trump has told reporters at the White House he has had “nothing to do” with West’s effort, though he added that he likes West.

Biden is leading Trump in national opinion polls, thanks partly to voter dissatisfaction over the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the nationwide protests that followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

It is not clear whether West, who announced his intent to run for president in July, can marshal enough support to get on the ballot, a process that is handled state-by-state in the US.

Kanye West w Trump at White House

US President Donald Trump listens as rapper Kanye West speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC on October 11, 2018. Trump has denied any involvement in supporting West’s campaign [File: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Lane Ruhland, a lawyer who previously worked for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, carried West’s petition to be on the ballot in Wisconsin into the state election commission’s building a few minutes after the state’s filing deadline.

Ruhland is also representing Trump’s campaign in a lawsuit against a Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, and a local Wisconsin TV station, according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper.

Government watchdog group the Campaign for Accountability filed an August 7 complaint against Ruhland with the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation that said representing both West and Trump is a conflict of interest.

West’s bid to get on the 2020 election ballot has been aided by Republican lawyers in several other states, including Arkansas, Ohio, and Colorado, according to The New York Times.

West’s campaign has so far submitted petitions in 10 states, but some of those filings, as in New Jersey and Illinois, have been found insufficient by state officials, according to a report in the Washington Post newspaper.

Reuters news agency

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