ASAP Rocky has entered U.S. history as more than just a rapper: His name keeps appearing during testimony related to the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
The rapper, real name Rakim Mayers, is turning out to be a placeholder of sorts, as his legal issues in Sweden were unfolding around the same time Trump administration officials were talking about all things Ukrainian.
Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Wednesday that his recollection of a July 26 call with Trump was refreshed by mention of the jailed performer.
“What triggered my memory was someone’s reference to ASAP Rocky, which was I believe the primary purpose of the phone call,” Sondland told a House attorney. He’d previously testified that he doesn’t take notes during meetings or conversations, hence the issues with memory.
Rocky’s name reportedly came up Friday during the private questioning of David Holmes, an official at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv who said he overheard Sondland speaking with Trump via cellphone at a Kyiv restaurant.
At the time, the rapper had been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of assault after a street fight. Trump was championing the release of ASAP Rocky, prompted by requests from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
“I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!” POTUS tweeted at the time. His request was rebuffed, the investigation proceeded, and the rapper went to trial.
Sondland told Trump in the phone call that Rocky should have pleaded guilty, Holmes said in his written statement, according to the New York Times.
Holmes testified that he overheard Sondland advising Trump that he should “let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a ticker-tape [parade] when he comes home.” The ambassador then told Trump that Sweden “should have released him on your word” and added, “You can tell the Kardashians you tried,” Holmes said.
Sondland said Wednesday that he frequently has non-classified calls over unsecure land lines and cellphones and that it was up to the president to decide what was classified.
The ambassador also said the only part of Holmes’ testimony that he questioned was a mention of investigating “the Bidens.” Sondland said he recalled mentioning Burisma but didn’t remember saying anything about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Rocky was freed at the beginning of August after spending a month behind bars. He was eventually found guilty of assault and received a conditional sentence, which meant no punishment would be levied unless he committed a similar offense in Sweden in the future.
At the time, he reportedly swore he would never return to that country, but now he’s singing a different tune and vowing to donate proceeds from an upcoming show to an organization that helps immigrants get the legal help they need. Not everyone, he said, gets the kind of high-level public support he had.
“I met so many people like myself [in Swedish jail]. All of those immigrants, they didn’t have the kind of support they needed ... ,” he told TMZ. “I just felt like I wanted to give back.”