A newly surfaced recording from a 2015 speech by Michael Bloomberg, in which the former three-term mayor of New York City gives a full-throated defense of the controversial policing procedure known as "stop and frisk," is threatening to undermine the 2020 presidential candidate's subsequent apologies for backing the policy and hurt his status with minority voters.
President Trump blasted his fellow New Yorker as the audio emerged, saying in a Tuesday morning tweet as the New Hampshire primary was getting underway: '"WOW, BLOOMBERG IS A TOTAL RACIST!" The tweet was later taken down, without explanation -- but his campaign manager Brad Parscale soon afterward tweeted "#BloombergIsARacist," next to a separate clip of Bloomberg complaining in a 2013 radio interview that police stop white people "too much" and minorities "too little."
Parscale added in reference to the 2015 comments, "All the money in the world can't undo this."
In an audio clip of the 2015 speech Bloomberg gave to the Aspen Institute, the billionaire acknowledged that "stop and frisk" targeted minority "kids" whom cops must throw "up against the wall" to disarm. The Aspen Times reported at the time that Bloomberg representatives asked the Institute not to distribute footage of his appearance.
"Ninety-five percent of murders- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops," he said. "They are male, minorities, 16-25. That's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city (inaudible). And that's where the real crime is. You've got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed."
Bloomberg also said urban crime-fighting required cities to "spend the money" and "put a lot of cops in the streets," particularly in "minority neighborhoods," where he said the crime is. He also acknowledged the "unintended consequences" of the policy.
"So one of the unintended consequences is people say, 'Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods," Bloomberg is heard saying on the recording. "Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them... And then they start... 'Oh I don't want to get caught.' So they don't bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home."
In a statement released on Tuesday, Bloomberg said he "inherited the police practice of stop-and-frisk," which he stressed he "cut" back by 95 percent by the time he left office, but admits he "should've done it faster and sooner" and that he has "taken responsibility for taking too long to understand the impact it had on Black and Latino communities."
"But this issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity," Bloomberg continued. "I believe we need to end mass incarceration and during my tenure we reduced incarceration by 40% and juvenile confinement by more than 60%. We created the Young Men's Initiative to help young men of color stay on track for success, which President Obama built on to create My Brother's Keeper. And we overhauled a school system that had been neglecting and underfunding schools in Black and Latino communities for too long."
Bloomberg, who is funding his campaign with hundreds of millions of dollars from his vast fortune, has surged in recent polls as some within the Democrat Party seek a more moderate alternative to far-left candidates such as senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign appears to be in free-fall. Bloomberg, who succeeded Rudy Giuliani as mayor of America's biggest city and continued to suppress crime, has been repeatedly grilled about his previous support for "stop and frisk," which some critics consider a racist approach to policing.
“Over time I’ve come to understand something that I’ve long struggled to admit to myself,” Bloomberg told congregants at the Christian Cultural Center in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn. “I got something important wrong. I got something important really wrong.”
Bloomberg defended his intentions, which were to reduce gun violence, but admitted that he made an error in how he went about it, even noting that when he put in safeguards to reduce police stops, crime did not go up.
“Today, I want you to know that I realize that back then I was wrong,” he said. “And I’m sorry.”
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.