Prime Minister Erna Solberg has joined fellow European leaders in expressing astonishment that US President Donald Trump would cross the line between the executive and judicial branches of government. She was reacting to Trump’s criticism that Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven refused to intervene in the arrest in Stockholm of an American rapper charged with assault.
Trump wrote on social media late last week that he was “very disappointed” in Löfven “for being unable to act” in arranging for the release of rapper A$AP Rocky, whose legal name is Rakim Mayers.
Like most European countries, however, Sweden has no system for allowing release on bail: “You can’t buy yourself free” of custody, noted one top Swedish government official, nor can any politician arrange for anyone’s release.
“The fundamental understanding is that a legal system is independent, so it’s rather astonishing if Trump believes it isn’t,” Solberg told news bureau NTB over the weekend. “That’s the way it is in the US, and that’s the way it is in our countries.”
Trump had suggested in one of his social media messages that he’d put up bail for the rapper if necessary, and didn’t seem to understand that Swedish law has no provision for such a move. Instead Trump claimed Sweden “has let our African American Community down in the United States.” Mayers, meanwhile, claims he and his bodyguard acted in self-defense when they beat up another man on a Stockholm street in early July. Mayers has since had to cancel several European performances this summer.
Löfven has refused to engage with Trump in what a former Swedish prime minister and foreign minister, Carl Bildt, calls Trump’s “verbal mud wrestling.” Trump claimed that the US had “done so much for Sweden,” without specifying what, “but it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting anything back.” He then chided Sweden, suggesting the Scandinavian country should concentrate on its crime problems.
Solberg was clearly unimpressed, if not as angry as Bildt. “The legal system makes its own decisions,” she told NTB. “This is not a political issue.” Trump, meanwhile, has also been criticized in the US for trying to drum up votes within the African-American community as the US presidential campaign gets underway.