Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has been rocked by the resurfacing of historic claims that he made sexist and derogatory comments to women, including allegedly urging one to get an abortion.
The billionaire was accused in a past lawsuit of telling a female employee who said she was pregnant to “kill it”. He has denied saying the words and the case was settled out of court.
Other quotes attributed to Mr Bloomberg in court filings include “I’d like to do that piece of meat” and “I would DO you in a second”.
At least 17 women have taken legal action against Mr Bloomberg’s company in the last 30 years, according court documents reviewed by ABC News, including three cases where he is named for his role in the firm’s culture.
The broadcaster said none of the cases made it trial, with some withdrawn, others settled out of court and three still active.
A Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman said he had “supported and empowered women” during his career but no acknowledges "some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong”.
Mr Bloomberg became one of the richest men in the world by creating Bloomberg LP, a global financial services company which includes Bloomberg News, its media arm.
He served as New York’s mayor between 2002 and 2013 and has become a late entrant in the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for the November 2020 election.
The winner will take on Donald Trump, who is set to be impeached by the House of Representatives on Wednesday but is expected to survive a trial over his removal in the Senate.
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Mr Trump would become only the third sitting president impeached in the country’s history, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon resigned before that point.
The vote is expected to largely split down party lines, with all Republicans rejecting the two articles of impeachment. A handful of Democrats could also rebel and vote against the articles, though they are expected to pass comfortably.
Looking ahead to the trial in the Senate that would follow, the most senior Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer, has demanded that senior current and former Trump officials be made to testify.
He went public with a demand for Mick Mulvaney, Mr Trump’s acting chief of staff, John Bolton, his former national security adviser, and two of their senior advisers to give evidence.
The men refused to testify in the original impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump’s attempt to secure politically helpful investigations from Ukraine.
However the call is unlikely to be taken up by the Republicans, who hold the majority in the Senate and so decide the rules for the trial.
Mr Bloomberg, 77, unexpectedly entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last month, framing himself as a centrist candidate who is best placed to defeat Mr Trump.
The abortion claim dates back to a 1997 lawsuit filed by a sales manager named Sekiko Sakai, who recounted Mr Bloomberg’s alleged reaction when she said told him she was pregnant.
“He told me to ‘kill it’ in a serious monotone voice,”, Ms Sakai alleged, according to ABC News. "I asked ‘What? What did you just say?’ He looked at me and repeated in a deliberate manner ‘kill it.’"
Mr Bloomberg has been asked about the allegation in previous interviews. In 2001 he told the NBC Today Show he “never said it”.
Bloomberg LP reportedly settled the case on undisclosed terms and she is now bound by a confidentiality agreement.
Some of the comments come from a 32-page compilation of crude and sexist remarks Mr Bloomberg allegedly made that was given to him at a 1990 office party as a joke.
He is also accused to have once said "look at the ass on her" when pointing out a woman while New York mayor. He denied making the remark.
Julie Wood, Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman, said: “Mike Bloomberg has supported and empowered women throughout his career – from appointing women to the very top positions in his mayoral administration to supporting women candidates for higher office to an industry-leading 26-weeks of paid family leave at his company.
“At the same time, Mike has come to see that some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong. He believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.”