The Slatest

Trump Says He Will “Personally Vouch” for A$AP Rocky’s Bail. Too Bad Sweden Doesn’t Have a Bail System.

A$AP Rocky performs at the Marquee Singapore grand opening celebration on April 13, 2019 in Singapore.
A$AP Rocky performs at the Marquee Singapore grand opening celebration on April 13, 2019 in Singapore.
Christopher Jue/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is making his quest to help out rapper A$SAP Rocky get out of prison a personal matter. The commander in chief spoke with Sweden’s prime minister Saturday about the jailed rapper and claims he “offered to personally vouch for his bail.” In a tweet, Trump said that he insisted to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven that the rapper whose real name is Rakim Mayers “was not a flight risk.” Löfven assured Trump that the rapper would be “treated fairly” but didn’t seem to concede anything more than that beyond a promise of a future phone conversation within the next two days.

“Just had a very good call with @SwedishPM Stefan Löfven who assured me that American citizen A$AP Rocky will be treated fairly,” Trump tweeted. “Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative.” He went on: “Our teams will be talking further, and we agreed to speak again in the next 48 hours!”

It seems perhaps Trump wasn’t briefed on the Swedish legal system before he got on the phone. As several articles looking into A$SAP Rocky’s situation have pointed out recently, Sweden doesn’t have a system of bail. “If you live in a country where bail is possible, I understand you’d be surprised,” Linnea Wegerstad, a lecturer in criminal law at Lund University in Sweden, told the New York Times. Dennis Martinsson, a senior law lecturer at Stockholm University, also made that point to Time. “There have been a lot of misunderstandings about how the justice system works in Sweden,” Martinsson said.
“I assume that people think we have a bail system and he was denied bail. We don’t have that system, so the only option is detention.”

Fair Trials, a non-governmental organization, explains that while Sweden does have alternatives for detention, they are rarely used:

Sweden does have alternatives to custody, including supervision, travel bans and an obligation to report to a police station, but these are only used for vulnerable people (including minors) or in cases where the alleged offence is not punishable by a prison sentence. Bail is not recognised as an alternative to pre-trial detention.

Earlier in the day, Löfven issued a statement making it clear that while he was happy to talk to Trump, there wasn’t much he could do about the case. “I understand that President Trump has a personal interest in the case….He has expressed the desire for a conversation with me, which is certainly positive,” Löfven said in a statement. “I will explain that the Swedish judicial system is independent. In Sweden, everyone is equal before the law, and this includes visitors from other countries.”

A$AP Rocky has been in jail since July 5 as authorities investigate a fight that he was allegedly involved in before appearing at a music festival. Several musicians, including Justin Bieber and Diddy have spoken up against the detention as have several members of Congress. The president apparently took note of the issue due to pressure from first lady Melania Trump and Kim Kardashian, who reportedly got in touch with Jared Kushner about the issue. Trump also said in a tweet he spoke to Kanye West about it and he said “many” of his African-American friends called him to ask for help. “Many, many members of the African American community have called me, friends of mine, and said, ‘could you help?’ So I personally don’t know A$AP Rocky but I can tell you he has a lot of support from the African American community in this country,” Trump said. “And when I say African American, I can really say from everybody in this country, because we are all one.”