President Donald Trump isn't always known for his sensitivity to racial issues, but in a recent tweet he appeared to defend the African American community against... Sweden? On July 25, rapper A$AP Rocky was officially charged with assault in Sweden, for an incident that he has said was self-defense. Later that day, Trump took to Twitter to criticize Sweden's prime minister and to demand that A$AP Rocky be released. Trump's tweets about A$AP Rocky and Sweden are pretty unorthodox, to say the least.
According to the BBC, A$AP Rocky has been in Swedish custody since July 3. Swedish authorities arrested A$AP Rocky following an incident on June 30, when he allegedly got into a fight that was captured on video. The recording of the alleged assault shows A$AP Rocky and others with him allegedly beating up a man on the streets of Stockholm, The Washington Post reported. A$AP Rocky has since responded to assault allegations, claiming that men had been following him and that he had acted in self-defense.
“We didn’t want trouble,” A$AP Rocky wrote on Instagram. “They followed us for 4 blocks, and they were slapping girls butts who passed, give me a break.” Elite Daily reached out to A$AP Rocky's legal team for further comment on the assault charges but did not hear back.
Despite A$AP Rocky's claims of self-defense, a Swedish prosecutor decided to charge the rapper with assault on the basis of causing bodily harm, per the BBC. In response to these charges, Trump posted two tweets demanding A$AP Rocky's freedom and criticizing Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for keeping him in custody.
Trump expressed his disappointment in Löfven, and argued that "Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States." The president also demanded that Swedish authorities "give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM," suggesting that the United States does "so much for Sweden but it doesn't seem to work the other way around." Trump concluded his tweets by telling Sweden to "focus on its real crime problem."
In response to Trump's tweets, a spokesperson for the Swedish government issued a statement to The Independent saying that the prime minister could not get involved in A$AP Rocky's case.
"Sweden and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven have been very clear in the dialogue with both the White House and directly with the American president, that in Sweden everyone is equal before the law and that the government cannot interfere in legal proceedings," the spokesperson said.
On July 19, Trump tweeted that he had become interested in A$AP Rocky's case after speaking with Kanye West. The president isn't necessarily wrong about racism in Sweden — where right-wing factions have been reportedly scapegoating immigrant communities for street crimes — but he hasn't been quite so critical of racism in the United States. In fact, Trump previously denigrated black football players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and systemic racism, and he most recently suggested that four progressive congresswomen of color should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Elite Daily previously reached out to the White House for comment regarding the president's "go back" remarks, but did not hear back. The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment regarding the president's remarks about race in light of A$AP Rocky's arrest.
Trump has, however, gotten involved in the criminal justice system, particularly when high-profile celebrities have asked it of him. In June 2018, Trump granted clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for a first-time nonviolent drug offense, following a White House meeting with Kim Kardashian West. Then, in December 2018, Trump signed the First Step Act into law with bipartisan support. According to Vox, the First Step Act aims to reduce extremely punitive sentences and allow thousands of people to be released from prison early.
Despite Trump's engagement in A$AP Rocky's case, the Swedish government has made it clear that it will not get involved in the case. According to the BBC, the rapper will be held in custody until his trial starts on July 30.