Ambassador Gordon Sondland says a July cellphone call with President Donald Trump “primarily discussed” rapper A$AP Rocky, who was imprisoned in Sweden earlier this year.
Sondland told a House impeachment inquiry into Trump on Wednesday that testimony from U.S. diplomat David Holmes had jogged his memory of the discussion.
Sondland says his July 26 call with Trump from a Kyiv restaurant mainly focused on the rapper, instead of Ukraine military aid. At the time, the rapper was in a Swedish jail awaiting trial on charges stemming from a June 30 street brawl in Stockholm.
Holmes previously testified behind closed doors that he overhead Sondland tell Trump that the president should let Rocky “get sentenced, play the racism card, and give him a ticker-tape when he comes home.”
Trump publicly weighed in to support the Grammy-nominated rapper, who pleaded self-defense. The rapper, along with his two bodyguards, on Aug. 14 were given “conditional sentences,” meaning they wouldn’t serve prison time unless they commit a similar offense in the future.
Among those urging Trump to try to free the rapper were first lady Melania Trump, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West.
Holmes testified that in the president’s phone call with Sondland, Sondland told Trump that Sweden “should have released (Rocky) on your word” but he could “tell the Kardashians you tried.”
Holmes revealed on Thursday that Jay Leno had dinner with Sondland in the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s honour. The dinner “included Zelensky, Jared Kushner, Secretary [Mike] Pompeo’s counsellor Ulrich Brechbuhl, senior European Union officials, and comedian Jay Leno.”
Sondland said he invited Jay Leno to the dinner because Zelensky was a big fan of the American comedian. Sondland arranged a standup comedy performance in Brussels by Jay Leno, per Politico.
With files from Shakiel Mahjouri/ET Canada