(Bloomberg) -- Hours after Kanye West held court in the Oval Office during a cheerfully raucous session with President Donald Trump, another celebrity who came to Washington on Thursday, Robert De Niro, mused about how to find a new leader.
“We all know my thought about the president and we have a more important thing now and that’s working to get rid of him,” said De Niro, a two-time Academy Award winner who was mocking Trump years before he ran for president.
“But you need somebody strong that can beat him at his own game,” De Niro told Bloomberg News in an interview. “You have to offer things that are as real as they can possibly be. You can’t promise anything -- I mean, when you’re a politician you say, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that.’ And you have to have things that are going to inspire people to want to believe in you, as opposed to the nonsense that’s being put out by this guy.”
“This Beto O’Rourke seems interesting,” De Niro said, referring to the Democratic Senate candidate in Texas who has drawn the national spotlight for his spirited campaign against Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
De Niro, the star of “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Analyze This” and many other movies, was in Washington on Thursday night for a party for Gus Russo and Eric Dezenhall’s book “Best of Enemies: The Last Great Spy Story of the Cold War,” based on the true story of CIA officer Jack Platt and KGB agent Gennady Vasilenko, who were ordered to flip each other.
Trump had invited West to lunch to discuss Chicago crime, gang violence and prison reform, and at the last minute invited reporters to witness the rapper’s rapid-fire blue-sky vision for improving America, which included plenty of compliments for his host. “What I need ‘Saturday Night Live’ to improve on, what I need the liberals to improve on,” West said, “is if he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president! He has to be the freshest, the fly-est, the fly-est planes, the best factories.”
On West’s White House appearance, De Niro said, “It’s a shame.”
De Niro’s mockery turned to condemnation after Trump was elected. He denounced Trump with obscenities at the Tony Awards in June, prompting the president, while on his way back from the summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, to call the actor “a very low IQ individual.”
A few days later, as the conflict between the U.S. and Canada over trade simmered and after Trump had lashed out at U.S. allies during a Group of Seven summit in Quebec, De Niro offered Canadians an apology for “the idiotic behavior of my president. It’s a disgrace and I apologize to Justin Trudeau and the other people at the G7. It’s disgusting.”
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