/Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders: ‘I Think You Just Called Me a Liar on National TV’

Elizabeth Warren to Bernie Sanders: ‘I Think You Just Called Me a Liar on National TV’

When the nonaggression pact fails.
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

After Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders’s tense post-debate exchange on Tuesday night, the question on the minds of many political observers was simple: What did they say to each other?

According to audio released by CNN on Wednesday night, Warren directly accused Sanders of calling her a liar:

Warren: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

Sanders: What?

Warren: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

Sanders: You know, let’s not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we’ll have that discussion.

Warren: Alright.

Sanders: You called me a liar. You told me — all right, let’s not do it now.”

CNN, which hosted the debate, also published audio from Tom Steyer, who awkwardly attempted to say hello in the post-debate scrum: “I don’t want to get in the middle. I just want to say hi Bernie.” (The Vermont senator returned his remark with a fabulous “Yeah, good.”) The network states that they obtained the audio from “two backup recordings from the microphones Sanders and Warren were wearing.”

Prior to the release of the CNN audio, reporters were in frequent contact with campaign contacts to shed some light on the answer.

The New York Times reported that, according to “people familiar with the exchange” Warren approached Sanders in the moments after the event in Iowa to take issue with his characterization of the now-famous conversation the two had in 2018, during which Warren has claimed that Sanders said that a woman couldn’t win the presidency.

Sanders reportedly told Warren that he wanted to discuss the issue at a later time. In the footage of the exchange, he outstretches a hand to Warren, who does not take it, then appears frustrated with what she says, and walks away.

It is not clear who gave the information to the Times, though a prime candidate would be conversational odd man out Tom Steyer, who inserted himself into the Warren-Sanders tête-à-tête, then claimed he didn’t hear what they said.

The emergence of Warren’s account of the 2018 meeting this week — coming on the heels of other moments of discord between the two camps — prompted speculation that her camp intentionally leaked it to discredit Sanders, which the Warren team denies. The issue was raised by a moderator at Tuesday’s debate, which prompted a somewhat awkward but mostly mild exchange between the two candidates. The worst of the acrimony seemed to have passed, until the post-debate moment reignited it.

Questioned about the matter on Wednesday, Bernie Sanders gave a wry response to a reporter.

Jane Sanders, the candidate’s wife, was more forthcoming. She told the AP, of the clash, that “this discussion is over,” while maintaining that her husband did not make the comments Warren said he did. “We remain committed to continuing a progressive movement made up of women and men, black and white, gay and straight,” she said. “The message is unity.”

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