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Rapper Kanye West, in an Oval Office meeting Thursday with President Donald Trump, delivered a rambling speech about his mental health, his family, his business, “the universe” and his fondness for the president.

Sporting a red “Make America Great Again” cap, West said, “They try to scare me into not wearing this hat.”

“This hat gives me power in a way,” he said, later comparing it to a “Superman cape.”

West, who was at the White House for a lunch meeting on criminal justice, gang violence prevention and other topics, gave extended remarks that lasted nearly 10 minutes, in front of rolling cameras and a trove of reporters.

He was seated alongside former NFL star Jim Brown, who was also there to discuss prison reform.

West spoke of his family, noting that “my dad and my mom separated so I did not have a lot of male energy in my home and also I married into a family where, you know, there’s not a lot of male energy. It’s beautiful though.”

He also disclosed that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but that he felt it was a “misdiagnosis” and that he was simply sleep-deprived.

Over the course of his sprawling speech of loosely connected ideas, West also talked about the Thirteenth Amendment, his business partnership with Adidas, and whether he would ever run for president.

To that, West said, “Let’s stop worrying about the future, all we have is today.” The president, he added, “is on his hero’s journey.”

At other points, however, West touched on issues of race and criminal justice, including policing and other social issues.

He said that controversial “stop-and-frisk” policing used in Chicago “does not help relationships” in the city, and seemed to criticize welfare. He also encouraged schools to implement mental health and art programs for children and said violence on the streets is a product of illegal guns, not legal guns.

Following the statement by West, Trump said, “I tell you what, that was pretty impressive.”

“That was quite something,” Trump said.

West then said, “It was from the soul. I just channeled it.”

West has repeatedly expressed support for Trump during his presidency, drawing backlash as a result. West has said that he didn’t vote in 2016, but if he had, he would have voted for Trump, and he met with Trump during his presidential transition.

Last month, West sported a “Make America Great Again” hat as he delivered an off-air politically themed rant to an uncomfortable audience after the taping of the Sept. 29 season premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” which airs on NBC.

During the speech, West defended Trump and claimed to be his “real” self, boasting that he had not taken what many presumed to be his psychiatric medication.

In May, Trump met with West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, about criminal sentencing reform. During the meeting, Kardashian West pushed Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time offender who was sentenced to life in prison in Tennessee in 1996 for her involvement in a drug conspiracy. The president commuted her sentence in June.

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Sturgeon told quit the ‘grandstanding!’ Hunt slaps down whingeing SNP chief over Indyref2

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JEREMY HUNT has told Nicola Sturgeon to quit the “grandstanding” over calls for a second Scottish independence referendum as a war of words between the Foreign Secretary and Scotland’s First Minister erupts.

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DNC names 20 candidates who will appear on stage for first Democratic debate

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The Democratic National Committee on Thursday named the 20 presidential candidates who qualified to appear on stage later this month in the first primary debate of the 2020 campaign.

They are:

  1. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
  2. Former Vice President Joe Biden*
  3. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey*
  4. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg*
  5. Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro*
  6. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
  7. Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
  8. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii*
  9. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York*
  10. Sen. Kamala Harris of California*
  11. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
  12. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington*
  13. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota*
  14. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas*
  15. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
  16. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont*
  17. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California
  18. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts*
  19. Author Marianne Williamson*
  20. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang*

The DNC, which is sanctioning the debate, set two ways for candidates to qualify — fundraising and polling. To make the stage, candidates needed to have either at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or provide evidence of at least 65,000 unique donors, with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

The candidates marked with an asterisk qualified through both polling and grassroots fundraising thresholds, the DNC said. The others qualified through polling only.

Those who did not meet the threshold for the first debate include: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam; and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

Bullock told NBC News’ Chuck Todd Thursday in an interview on “Meet the Press Daily” that he was “disappointed” with the DNC’s decision but declined to say if he would challenge it.

“I certainly knew getting in at the time I did would give me fewer opportunities to be on shows with youand others, but I had a job to do,” said Bullock, who announced his bid in mid-May. “And if it ultimately ever came down to choosing between getting Medicaid reauthorized, getting 100,000 Montanans health care versus getting in earlier just to try to bump up on yet another poll, I would make that same choice time and time again.”

He added that he is an “important voice” in the field, since Montana voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, and noted that there will be more opportunities to introduce himself to voters before the first primary next year, including future debates.

“I am the only one in the field that won in a Trump state and we need to win back some of the places we’ve lost,” he said.

The two-night debate, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will take place on June 26 and 27 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami. The event will air live across all three networks from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m ET both nights.

Ten candidates at a time will appear on stage, but the lineup for each night has not been determined, nor has where the candidates will stand. Both nights will have the same format, NBC News previously announced. It is the first of 12 primary debates the DNC has planned.

Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel Maddow and José Diaz-Balart will moderate the debate, NBC announced Tuesday.

The debate will also stream online free on NBC News’ digital platforms, including NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, the NBC News Mobile App and OTT apps, in addition to Telemundo’s digital platforms.

Dartunorro Clark contributed.

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Tom Watson: Could Tom Watson challenge Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?

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TOM WATSON is the deputy Labour leader and is calling for a fresh referendum, but could he challenge Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leadership?

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