On Thursday, Sweden’s Justice Minister accused Donald Trump of threatening a trade war back in 2019 unless the country released rapper A$AP Rocky who was arrested at the time for assaulting a fan.
The rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayer, was arrested after he and several of his bodyguards beat up a man who they claim was following around and yelling racial slurs at them. Video of the incident emerged showing the rapper and his crew beating the man up. Police added that a witness told them Rocky or one of his crew threw a bottle at the victim, as well.
Rocky was arrested and charged with assault by Swedish police. He was ultimately convicted of assault but was given a suspended sentence and allowed to leave the country.
After the arrest, while Rocky was being held, Donald Trump, who was president of the United States at the time, continued to pressure Sweden to release the rapper.
Now, speaking to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson claims that Trump was so insistent on Rocky’s release that he even warned the Swedish government that he might impose “trade restrictions” on Sweden unless the rapper was released.
Johansson insisted that the lesson of the incident was that countries need to stand up for their principles.
“This story demonstrates how important it really is to stand up for our legal principles and not to take our democracy for granted,” he said. “If you can try and do something like this against Sweden, what will you then try and do to slightly weaker countries that don’t have the European Union behind them?”
The president deployed a number of tactics to pressure Sweden into dispensing with their effort to jail Rocky. He delivered a series of pleas for Rocky’s release. And he even sent a special envoy to Sweden to monitor Rocky’s situation.
While the country formally refused Trump’s public outcry, his case was accelerated, and Rocky was even allowed to leave the country before his guilty verdict was delivered.
The case wasn’t as cut and dried as Swedish authorities thought, either. The main charge leveled against Rocky is that he or a member of his crew threw a glass bottle at the victim. But a witness for the prosecution later recanted the claim.
Ultimately, Trump felt somewhat vindicated when Rocky was released only 2 months after being arrested and charged, and he tweeted “Get home asap” after hearing the verdict.
The justice minister’s tale of Trump’s threats is not exactly new, though. Back in August of 2019, it had been reported that Trump had warned of “negative consequences” if the Rocky case was not wrapped up quickly.