Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has been running an unabashedly pro-female presidential campaign, dragged former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg over his treatment of women throughout his time as an executive and elected official.
And it got real, quick.
Bloomberg, who has been under fire from every contender since the earliest moments of the ninth Democratic debate in Las Vegas, seemed visibly uncomfortable with Warren’s continued pressing for more information on specific aspects of Bloomberg’s treatment of women. At one juncture, she asked the billionaire Democrat how many women were subjected to non-disclosure agreements under his leadership.
“I have no tolerance for the kind of behavior the ‘Me too’ movement has exposed. Anybody that does anything wrong in our company, we investigate it, and if it’s appropriate, they’re gone that day,” Bloomberg started, before pivoting to a bizarre defense that he has employed women in the past.
“But let me tell you what I do at my company and my foundation and in city government when I was there,” he said. “ In my foundation, a person that runs it’s a woman, 70 percent of the people there are women.”
“In my company, lots and lots of women have big responsibilities, they get paid exactly the same as men,” Bloomberg continued, before rattling off other statistics of how many women he employs and has previously worked with.
Listening carefully, Warren dove in.
“I’ve been nice to some women,” Warren started, mocking Bloomberg’s response to a moderator’s question that several former employees have claimed his company was a hostile workplace for women. “That just doesn’t cut it,” she continued. “What we need to know is exactly what’s lurking out there. He has gotten some number of women — dozens, who knows — to sign nondisclosure agreements for sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace.”
Warren concluded: “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?”
Then, former Vice President Joe Biden jumped in.
“Look, let’s get something straight here. It’s easy. All the mayor has to do is say, you are released from the nondisclosure agreement. Period. We talk about transparency here,” Biden said.
Bloomberg responded sharply: “I’ve said we’re not going to end these agreements because they were made consensually.” Then, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) added a last word, shifting the topic away from harassment and to “electability”—and, seemingly without reason, to Bloomberg’s past support for former President George W. Bush.
“Maybe we should also ask how Mayor Bloomberg in 2004 supported George W. Bush for president?” he said.