Trump campaign seizes on audio of Bloomberg defending ‘stop and frisk’

President Trump’s campaign is seizing on newly surfaced audio from 2015 in which former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg can be heard defending the controversial policing policy known as “stop and frisk.”

Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, tweeted Tuesday that the audio shows that Bloomberg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is a “complete racist.”

Bloomberg can be heard in the audio defending stop and frisk, a policing practice used during his tenure as mayor that involves law enforcement temporarily questioning and searching a suspect for weapons on the street. Critics say the searches lack proper probable cause and are flatly unconstitutional.

The Trump campaign also promoted a second clip of Bloomberg defending stop and frisk during a radio interview that aired in June 2013. 

In November, Bloomberg apologized for the controversial policy, which contributed to a disproportionate number of stops of minorities across the city over his tenure.

“Ninety-five percent of your murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16 to 25. That’s true in New York, it’s true in virtually every city,” Bloomberg is heard saying in the recording.

“And that’s where the real crime is. You’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed. You want to spend the money on a lot of cops in the streets, put those cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods,” he said.

Trump on Tuesday also shared and then deleted a tweet with the audio that included the caption, “WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST.” It was not immediately clear why the president deleted the message.

The president himself has at times advocated for stop and frisk, including during remarks at a 2018 police convention in Orlando as he discussed how to curb gun violence in Chicago.

In a statement, Bloomberg said that Trump’s deleted tweet represents “the latest example of his endless efforts to divide Americans.” 

“I have taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact [stop-and-frisk] had on Black and Latino communities,” Bloomberg said. “But this issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.” 

“The President’s attack on me clearly reflects his fear over the growing strength of my campaign,” he continued. “Make no mistake Mr. President: I am not afraid of you and I will not let you bully me or anyone else in America. Between now and November, I will do everything I can to defeat you whether I am on the ballot or not.”

Some quotes from Bloomberg’s 2015 remarks at the Aspen Institute were reported at the time, but this appears to be the first instance of audio of the remarks being shared widely.

The Aspen Times reported in February 2015 that Bloomberg’s representatives had asked the Aspen Institute to block footage of his appearance there. The audio of the event was shared Monday by podcast host Benjamin Dixon.

Bloomberg apologized for the policing policy during a speech before he announced he would run for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying, “I can’t change history, however today I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong and I’m sorry.”

Parscale on Tuesday tweeted a handful of times about the audio, at one point sharing a hashtag #BloombergIsARacist. Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh also shared the audio and highlighted quotes from it.

“Bloomberg’s recent apology for ‘stop and frisk’ is fake and hollow and was only given because he’s in the Democrat primary,” Murtaugh tweeted.

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, sought to highlight the audio in an email Tuesday morning, seeking to contrast it with Trump’s own economic policies and work on criminal justice reform.

Nina Turner, the co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign, also tweeted out the audio but did not offer commentary on it.

The president later shared a tweet from another user that used the hashtag #BloombergIsRacist and included a photo of Trump and the former mayor golfing. In his own message, Trump mocked Bloomberg as “Mini Mike” and criticized his golf game. Trump has periodically attacked Bloomberg and other candidates in the race during the primary, often using nicknames to refer to them.

The audio was leaked on the eve of the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire. Bloomberg, who entered the presidential contest late, is skipping the early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire to focus on “Super Tuesday” states.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Monday showed Bloomberg placing third in the primary contest nationally with 15 percent support, trailing Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

— Brett Samuels contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:58 a.m.

Tags Bernie Sanders Brad Parscale Donald Trump Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg

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