Free A$AP Rocky Reveals Tensions In Trump’s Outreach Efforts To The Black Community

Written by Ann Brown

Hip-hop artist A$AP Rocky may finally be home after almost a month of detention in a Swedish jail. He got out of jail is due in part to rallying by President Donald Trump, some say. But A$AP’s not handing out thank-yous to the White House — either publicly or privately.

And Trump is said to be not all too happy. Political observers say trump was hoping to use his coming to A$AP’s aid as a way to reach out to Black voters. But without the rapper even acknowledging Trump’s efforts, the White House’s plan has backfired.

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The situation had many people involved, both in and out of Trump’s circle, including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; the State Department’s top hostage negotiator; reality television star; an entertainment industry “fixer”; and two Trump supporters, who are African-American. 

On June 30, A$AP was involved in a street fight in Stockholm. Then on July 5, a Swedish court ruled that A$AP and two of his associates were flight risks and decided to detain then while an investigation of the incident proceeded. According to A$AP, he acted in self-defense and released videos on Instagram to show his side of how the fight started. 

A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky poses for a portrait to promote the film “Monster” at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

When A$AP was detained, two of Trump’s supporters decided to get involved. Darrell Scott and Kareem Lanier entered the picture a few days later. Scott is an Ohio pastor who was one of Trump’s highest-profile African-American surrogates during the 2016 campaign and later served on his transition team. Lanier is the co-chairman of the Urban Revitalization Coalition, a nonprofit led that focuses on getting the Black community to become pro-Trump. 

There was also Hassan Muhammad, who calls himself as a “fixer” for high-profile entertainment notables. 

The three contacted Rocky’s manager, John Ehmann. Lanier said it was at Ehmann’s urging that Trump needed to be involved.

“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 said he told A$AP’s manager.

Scott and Lanier then contacted Kushner, the president’s adviser and son-in-law, who became their main point of contact in the West Wing.

Kim Kardashian, reality TV star and an advocate of criminal justice reform, also contacted the White House about A$AP at the behest of her husband, rapper Kanye West

Kushner “brought it to the president,” who in turn directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take “the lead” on the issue. Kushner and Trump both stayed in the loop. 

When on July 12 Trump traveled to Cleveland, Lanier and Scott met with him and discussed A$AP’s case. 

Following the Cleveland trip, Trump spoke of the A$AP issue with  reporters.

“Many, many members of the African-American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, ‘Could you help?’” Trump said. “So I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky, but I can tell you he has a lot of support from the African-American community in this country.”

Trump also went on Twitter and posted that he had spoken to Kanye West about the case and had decided to call the Swedish prime minister. 

“Rocky stayed in detention for nearly two more weeks, while Trump continued to send angry tweets directed at the Swedish prime minister and dispatched the State Department’s top hostage negotiator to Stockholm to work on the case. The president’s actions on Rocky’s behalf prompted some critics to accuse him of pandering to the Black community with his highly public efforts,” Yahoo reported.

A$AP’s trial wrapped up on Aug. 2 and he released and permitted to return to the United States even though a verdict had yet to be reached.

Within hours of A$AP’s release, Lanier and Scott said they reached out to Rocky’s team expecting a thank-you. “We don’t get a call. We don’t get a call at all,” Scott said.

A$AP did post on Instagram giving thanks to his fans and friends who supported him.

“On Aug. 14, a panel of judges announced that they found Rocky guilty of assault but would not require him to serve any prison time. Rocky responded with another broad message of gratitude that didn’t name the White House,” Yahoo reported.

“All he had to do was do a two-minute call to say thank you,” said Scott. “Rocky hasn’t even called us and said, ‘Hey, man, thank you guys. I appreciate it,’ in private. Just in private.”