Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg clashed again during the tenth Democratic debate Tuesday night in South Carolina.
After the former New York City mayor dismissed Warren’s criticism of his past financial support of Republican candidates (including her 2012 opponent, former Sen. Scott Brown) as “sideshows,” the Massachusetts senator brought up the allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Bloomberg’s company.
“This is personal for me,” Warren said, retelling the story of how she lost her job as a young special education teacher in the 1970s after becoming “visibly pregnant.”
“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg [is] alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” Warren said.
“I never said that,” Bloomberg interjected, as several members of the audience booed.
Asked by the CBS News moderators what evidence she had to support the charge, Warren responded: “Her own words.”
Bloomberg categorically denied ever making the comment, which he has repeatedly disputed.
“When I was accused of doing it, we couldn’t figure out what she was talking about,” the Medford native said.
As The Washington Post reported earlier this month, a saleswoman at the billionaire candidate’s business information company, Bloomberg LP, accused him in 1995 of saying “kill it” after learning about her pregnancy, adding “Great! Number 16!,” which she interpreted as a reference to the number of new mothers at the company. Another employee told the Post that he overheard the apparent suggestion of an abortion, but Bloomberg has insisted he was misheard and supported the woman’s pregnancy.
“I’m sorry if she heard, what she thought she heard, or whatever happened — I didn’t take any pleasure in that,” he said during the debate Tuesday night.
Warren also reiterated her call for Bloomberg to release “all” the women who signed nondisclosure agreements to settle discrimination or sexual harassment claims and let them speak for themselves.
“If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out so that they can tell their stories the way I can tell my story, without having to fear that they will be sued by a billionaire,” she said earlier during the exchange.
After being confronted by Warren during the previous debate, Bloomberg — whose eponymous company has faced at least 17 legal complaints over its treatment of women dating back to the 1990s — offered this past Friday to release the three women who had personally sued him over comments they said he made from their nondisclosure agreements. Bloomberg also said his company would no longer offer such confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct under his control.
Warren originally told reporters later that Friday that it was “not good enough” to only release three women from their nondisclosure agreements. The former Harvard Law School professor said Bloomberg could sign a “blanket release,” so that anyone with a nondisclosure agreement with Bloomberg could speak out.
“If he’s limiting the number, then you can’t know if there are three or 30 or 300,” Warren said. “And that should not be in the control of Michael Bloomberg.”
New: Warren responds to Bloomberg’s announcement to clear three people from NDAs
“It’s just not good enough” pic.twitter.com/AqbJmGxOwn
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) February 21, 2020
During the previous debate, Warren said the complaints against Bloomberg could be a general election liability if he were to become the Democratic nominee against President Donald Trump.
Bloomberg has stressed that the complaints made against him haven’t been for anything other than comments he made, as documented by former employees in both a booklet and in several lawsuits. During the debate Tuesday night, Bloomberg said he was “probably wrong to make the jokes.”
“I don’t remember what they were, so I assume I — if it bothered them, I was wrong and I apologize,” he said. “I’m sorry for that.”
Bloomberg said he didn’t “know what else [Warren] wants us to do.”
“The trouble is, with this senator, enough is never enough,” he said, alluding to Warren’s call for him to release every woman from their nondisclosure agreement.
“We did what she asked, and, thank you, the world is probably better for it,” Bloomberg added.
“You did not do what I asked,” Warren shot back.