I was previously critical of the intervention of President Donald Trump in the criminal case of American rapper A$AP Rocky Trump not only demanded that Sweden grant bond (which is not available in Sweden) but tied the continued prosecution of the rap star to the status of diplomatic relations with our long-standing ally, Sweden. Now Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, and his two friends have been found guilty of assault.
Trump’s interest in the case appears to have been the result of a call from that paragon of criminal justice Kim Kardashian. As discussed earlier, Trump not only asked for bail (which is not an option in Sweden) but raised the diplomatic relations between the countries if Sweden were to continue its prosecution. Sweden understandably stuck with the rule of law and refused to simply release the rapper. Trump bizarrely then sent an Ambassador as an envoy to sit on a simple assault case. Ambassador Robert O’Brien “leads the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts on overseas hostage-related matters.” The over-top-response to the case was an utter embarrassment for this country and its legal system. Sweden is simply enforcing its laws and refusing to grant waivers for powerfully connected celebrities. We have responded by making it look like the trial of A$AP Rocky is the new Nuremberg trials.
I viewed the case as suspicious given a change in the testimony of a witness and a videotape that seemed to show Mayers trying to defuse the situation. Moreover, 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari did seem on the videotape to be intrusive and obnoxious, though it is not clear what transpired off camera. In the end, however, this was a simple assault case that fell squarely within the jurisdiction of a close ally. The court held: “The court finds that the defendants were not in a situation where they were entitled to self-defense and that they have assaulted the victim by hitting and kicking him.”
Trump’s statement connecting the case to our diplomatic relations and sending an ambassador as an observer achieved nothing beyond undermining our own status with a close ally.
A witness in the assault case revised her story from initial police reports, testifying that she didn’t actually see Mayers hitting a man with a bottle. Whether or not 19-year-old Mustafa Jafari, who got into an argument with Rocky’s entourage in Stockholm, was hit with part or a whole bottle became a key issue in the trial.