Finally, some positive news coming out of the White House for a change.
In a rambling 40-minute interview with Fox & Friends Thursday, Trump said the U.S. criminal justice system needs reform and is “very unfair to African-Americans,” and that he would overrule Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he stands in the way of prison reform.
“He gets overruled by me,” said Trump, in typically combative fashion against Sessions, whose possible firing he has reportedly discussed with his own chief of staff. “I make the decision, he doesn’t.”
The president, however, also made some surprisingly valid and not entirely self-centered points about the need for reform within the U.S. criminal justice system.
“We do need reform, and that doesn’t mean easy,” he said. “We’re going to make certain categories tougher when it comes to drug dealing and other things, but there has to be a reform because it is very unfair right now. It’s very unfair to African Americans. It is very unfair to everybody, and it is also very costly.”
Incarcerated protesters across 21 states made similar points in August, when they launched a three-week prison strike with demands of ending the unjust economic and racial dynamics of the U.S. prison system.
Sessions, who is known to use white nationalist dog-whistles and has also rolled back civil rights progress in his role as Attorney General, is also someone who is going to stand in the way of policies that would improve these conditions.
With all due credit, it’s worth remembering that the Fox & Friends interview these quotes come from was far from coherent, and Trump may simply be starstruck in the hours before his meeting with Kanye West, arguably his most famous fan at the moment.
Later today, Trump is set to meet with West and former NFL player Jim Brown to discuss the topic of criminal justice reform. West’s politics aren’t exactly coherent either; also on the agenda is “violence in Chicago,” a phrase used all too often to distract from systemic issues with an over-militarized police force that disproportionately targets Black and brown bodies.
Still, Kim Kardashian West, West’s wife and Trump’s fellow reality TV mega-star, was able to use her fame to get the president to grant clemency to Alicia Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender who had served 21 years of a life sentence before Kardashian West stepped in.
Hopefully, her husband will also be able to make some positive change during his meeting with the president today, even if the prospects of a Kanye West presidential run currently look daunting. In this hellscape, nearly two full years into the Trump presidency, we’re still relying on his narcissism and fame-chasing to distract his administration from their cruel policies.