Democratic debate: Live updates from Las Vegas, Nevada

John Locher/AP

Michael Bloomberg insisted he would not release women who alleged sexism and misogynistic behavior from non-disclosure agreements they’d signed at his company and allow them to describe their experiences. 

The former New York City mayor was asked about sexually suggestive comments he’d made in the 1990s, and claims from women that Bloomberg LP was a hostile workplace for women. 

He responded by touting his company as being ranked highly as a place for women to work now, and pointing to female executives at his company and foundation. 

Elizabeth Warren interjected, saying: “I hope you heard what his defense was: I’ve been nice to some women. That just doesn’t cut it.” 

She asked Bloomberg whether he would release women who had signed non-disclosure agreements from those agreements so that they could describe their experiences. 

“None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg said. “The agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet and that’s up to them. They signed those agreements and we’ll live with it.” 

Warren responded by asking if he’d release women who don’t wish to keep their experiences quiet live on television. Bloomberg said he wouldn’t — and Warren responded that he was keeping women “bound and muzzled” and that their stories would become a liability in a general election against President Donald Trump. 

Joe Biden jumped in, pointing out that Pete Buttigieg had asked his former employer, McKinsey, a major consulting firm, to release him from non-disclosure agreements that prohibited him from listing the companies he’d worked for. 

“It’s easy. All the mayor has to do is say, you are released from the non-disclosure agreements, period,” Biden said. 

But Bloomberg wouldn’t budge. 

“I’m simply not going to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect they will stay private,” he said. 

Some background: The allegations facing Bloomberg include claims from the 1990s that prior to a male colleague’s wedding, Bloomberg told a group of female employees to “line up to give him a blow job as a wedding present”; that he would regularly direct comments like “look at that nice piece of ass” at women in the office; and that upon learning that a female employee was expecting a baby, he responded: “Kill it!”

Bloomberg, through his representatives, has denied making the “kill it” comment and other comments laid out in at least two lawsuits, but has also acknowledged that he has made comments that do not align with his values.

Bloomberg having to answer for past controversial issues:

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