Earlier this summer, Swedish police arrested A$AP Rocky, charging him and several of associates with assault after a street brawl in Stockholm. Rocky maintained that he had been provoked. But Swedish police kept Rocky in a detention center for weeks, finally releasing him earlier this month. Soon afterward, Rocky was found guilty of assault, though he avoided any prison time after all that time in the detention center. While Rocky was being detained in Sweden, Donald Trump took a keen interest in the case, repeatedly tweeting about how Rocky should be freed. And the US government sent a letter to Sweden, warning of “potentially negative consequences to the U.S.-Swedish bilateral relationship.” Today, we learn that the Trump camp has not gotten what it wanted out of this whole situation: A thank you from A$AP Rocky.
Yahoo! News has just published a big behind-the-scenes report about the White House’s involvement with A$AP Rocky’s case, and it features a couple of people close to Trump fuming about the lack of gratitude that they’ve gotten from Rocky. Darrell Scott is a pastor from Ohio, and he’s one Trump’s few prominent black surrogates. Kareem Lanier is the co-chariman of the Urban Revitalization Coalition, Scott’s nonprofit dedicated to pushing Trump’s agenda within the black community. The two of them were reportedly contacted by Hassan Muhammad, a mysterious figure who describes himself as a music-business fixer.
On behalf of Rocky, Muhammad convinced Scott and Lanier to get involved in Rocky’s case. Before they talked to anyone in the White House, though, Scott and Lanier spoke with John Ehmann, Rocky’s manager. Scott claims that he told Ehmann this: “The White House didn’t ask for anything. There were no conditions attached, but my condition and Kareem’s condition was that all I’m asking for you guys to do is say thank you.” Scott also claims that Ehmann responded, “If a serial killer gets Rocky out of jail, I would have no problem saying thank you to the serial killer.”
Once they’d secured that guarantee, Scott and Lanier reached out to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Kushner was also hearing from Kim Kardashian. Kardashian already had a relationship with Donald Trump, and her husband Kanye West was urging her to get him involved in the case. Kushner brought the story to Trump, and Kushner, Trump, and Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo all got involved in it. Kushner set up a phone call between Trump and Kanye West about the matter. Also, Scott wrote directly to Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Karlsson, urging him to free Rocky. Karlsson never responded.
At one point during this whole process, Lanier claims that he “snapped” at Rocky’s attorney Damien Granderson for being too “nonchalant” about the White House’s support: “I was like, man, you ungrateful motherfuckers, you. I can’t believe you… We didn’t ask you guys for nothing other than for you guys to be grateful. We just want you guys to be appreciative and say thank you.”
At the time, of course, Trump was in the news for saying racist-ass things about American Representatives like Ilhan Omar, and for all the other racist things that he’s always doing. There was plenty of speculation that Trump was using Rocky’s case to seem less racist, or to pander to black voters. In the article, Lanier dismisses all that: “[Trump] won the election with 8 percent of the black vote. He doesn’t need black voters or need A$AP Rocky to get black voters… He did this because it was the right thing to do.”
In any case, when Rocky was eventually freed, Scott and Lanier never heard back from him, and they are mad about it. Ehmann, Rocky’s manager, reportedly put them off with “all these excuses” about how Rocky needed “rest.” Scott also says it was “embarrassing” to tell Kushner that they hadn’t heard back directly from Rocky. At one point, Ehmann promised to set up a call between Rocky and Kushner “within 48 hours.” But then Ehmann stopped responding to their text messages.
This has not sat well. Lanier blames black American culture: “One of the problems that we have as a culture — and I’m talking about black Americans — is herd mentality. Right now, it’s popular for those guys to bash President Trump.”
Scott, meanwhile, expresses something like disbelief: “All [Rocky] had to do was do a two-minute call to say thank you. Rocky hasn’t even called us and said, ‘Hey, man, thank you guys. I appreciate it,’ in private. Just in private.”
The whole report is fascinating, and you can read it here.