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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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IRS agent admits giving Michael Cohen’s financial records to Stormy lawyer

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By Andrew Blankstein and Tom Winter

Federal prosecutors say an IRS investigator in California has admitted leaking confidential details of financial transactions by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to Michael Avenatti, lawyer for Stormy Daniels.

John C. Fry has been charged in federal court with searching for and disseminating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), reports filed by banks when they note potentially suspicious transactions.

Federal officials say they found telephone records that indicate Fry placed a phone call from his personal cell phone to that of Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti the day before Avenatti released details of Cohen’s financial transactions, and the day after.

Via Twitter, Avenatti disseminated information about Cohen’s receipt in 2017 of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a company founded by a Russian billionaire, as well as payments to a Cohen company called Essential Consultants from other firms who do business with the federal government, including AT&T and aircraft manufacturer. The

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Office announced after Avenatti’s disclosure that it would be investigating the source of his information.

Fry, 54, is an investigative analyst with the law enforcement arm of the IRS, the Criminal Investigative Division. He has worked for the IRS since 2008.

According to the complaint, he conducted numerous searches related to Cohen, and downloaded five SARs, including one related to a bank account for Essential Consultants.

The federal complaint says Fry verbally admitted providing the information to Avenatti when he was confronted by federal agents.

In a statement, Avenatti told NBC News, “I have done nothing wrong and did not violate any law whatsoever, just like reporters don’t violate the law when they do their jobs.”

Sarah Fitzpatrick contributed.



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Republican candidate Mark Harris calls for new election in disputed North Carolina House race

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell and Dartunorro Clark

RALEIGH, North Carolina — Republican candidate Mark Harris on Thursday called for a new election in the disputed North Carolina House race.

“Neither I nor any of the leadership of my campaign were aware of or condoned the improper activities that have been testified to in this hearing. Through the testimony I listened to over the past three days, I believe a new election should be called,” Harris said. “It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the ninth district seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.”

Harris’ request for a new election came after several days of a state Board of Elections hearing that is seeking to determine whether there was misconduct with mail-in ballots in the state’s 9th congressional district. Harris testified Thursday morning that he had no knowledge of the alleged illegal activities of a political operative hired by his campaign.

State investigators described the matter as a “coordinated, unlawful” mail-in ballot “scheme” in Bladen County run by political operative McCrea Dowless that included the collection of absentee ballots, which is illegal in North Carolina.

Harris testified Thursday that Dowless had repeatedly assured him that he would not be doing anything against the law in his absentee ballot operation. Harris said that after consideration and talking with others he trusted, he decided to move forward with the hire.

“I was comfortable enough with the recommendations of the individuals from Judge Marion Warren who at first told me about McCrae Dowless and what he did and all the way through in meeting with those individuals, I was comfortable enough at that point,” Harris said.

However, Harris’ son, John Harris, testified before the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Wednesday, saying that he warned his father about the illegal tactics of Dowless, casting doubt on Harris’ insistence that he had no knowledge of fraudulent election activity in last year’s election.

John Harris, an assistant U.S. attorney in North Carolina, testified that he told his father he had become concerned about the practices of the operative, McCrae Dowless, after studying the 2016 congressional primary in the same 9th District. He said that his father decided to hire Dowless despite his concerns.



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‘NOT SIMPLER!’ Philip Hammond LASHES OUT at Williamson over China trade talks GAFFE

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CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond has accused Gavin William of choosing his career over a trade deal with China which was thwarted after the Defence Secretary sent a Royal Navy ship to the South China Sea.

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