During Rocky's trial, Trump was a vocal champion of the #FreeRocky campaign. And during Mayer's incarceration, Melania Trump reassured the press, “we’re working with the State Department, and we hope to get him home soon.”
In his statement to House impeachment investigators on Friday, David Holmes, who worked at the United States Embassy in Kiev, testified that Trump was told by European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland that Rocky “should have pled guilty.”
Rather than using diplomatic channels to bring the rapper back to the US, Trump was allegedly advised to “let him [Rocky] get sentenced.” Trump could then “play the racism card” once Mayers was sentenced. Then the president could “give him a ticker-tape when he comes home.”
According to the testimony, Sondland allegedly said that Sweden “should have released him on your word.”
Sondland reportedly noted that even if Trump was unable to secure Rocky's release, he could “tell the Kardashians you tried.” Kardashian reportedly lobbied Trump's advisor, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who passed the rapper’s story on to the president.
Although the president refrained from taking credit for the rapper's release in August, he continued to insert himself into the narrative and align himself with #freerocky.
Rocky declined to publicly thank Trump following his return to the US. According to Vanity Fair, members of Trump's executive team found it “embarrassing” to inform Kushner that “they’d had no meaningful contact with Rocky after his release" and that Rocky’s manager eventually stopped 'returning our text messages' altogether.”