Senator Elizabeth Warren took former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to task over his treatment of women during Wednesday’s presidential debate, making an unsuccessful request that he release multiple women who have allegedly accused him of sexual harassment from nondisclosure agreements.
The presidential candidates faced each other for the first time at the debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Billionaire Bloomberg, who previously came under fire from Warren for trying to “buy” the election, has denied the allegations and defended his treatment of women during the debate.
“I hope you heard what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women,'” said Warren. “That just doesn’t cut it. The mayor has to stand on his record and what we need to know is exactly what’s lurking out there.”
Warren then went after Bloomberg over a number of nondisclosure agreements signed by women who have allegedly accused him of harassment.
“He has got some number of women, dozens, who knows, to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace,” Warren said. “So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?”
“We have very few nondisclosure agreements,” said Bloomberg. “None of them have accused me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke.”
Bloomberg’s response prompted an audible gasp from some in the audience.
“These are agreements between two parties who wanted to keep it quiet, and that’s up to them,” Bloomberg insisted. “They signed those agreements and we’ll live with it.”
Warren then continued to press the former mayor on how many women he meant by “some” and again asked him to allow the women to legally speak.
“When you say they signed them and they wanted them, if they wish now to speak out and tell their side of the story about what it is, they allege, that’s now OK with you,” she said. “You’re releasing them on television tonight?”
“No,” Bloomberg replied. “Senator, the company and somebody else, in this case a man or a woman or could be more than that, they decided when they made an agreement that they wanted to keep it quiet for everybody’s interests. They signed the agreements and that’s what they’re going to live with.”
Warren said that Bloomberg’s nondisclosure agreements were an indication that he would not be an adequate candidate to face President Donald Trump. Earlier during the debate, she had accused the former mayor of having called women “fat broads” and “horse faced lesbians,” in reference to comments made in 1990 about the U.K.’s royal family.
Trump, who was holding a rally in Arizona at the same time said that he heard Bloomberg was getting “slammed at the debate.”
“The question is are the women bound by being muzzled by you? And you could release them from that immediately,” said Warren. “Because understand, this is not just a question of the mayor’s character, this is also a question about electability. We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many nondisclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against.”