Bernie Sanders on AC360.
Sanders responds to 2016 campaign allegations
01:49 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Sen. Bernie Sanders will meet on Wednesday with former staff members who alleged they faced harassment and sexism on his 2016 campaign.

A spokesperson for Sanders confirmed the meeting to CNN, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News. The meeting also comes as Sanders is weighing a second presidential bid in 2020.

Sanders apologized again last week to the women who have come forward in recent weeks to allege they were sexually harassed while working on his presidential campaign.

“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable, and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about,” Sanders said last week at a news conference. “When we talk about – and I do all of the time – ending sexism, and ending all forms of discrimination, those beliefs cannot just be words. … They must be based in day to day reality and in the work that we do. And that was not the case, clearly not the case, in the 2016 campaign.”

The Vermont senator was responding to a question about a Politico report revealing allegations that an operative, Robert Becker, who worked for the campaign in Iowa and Michigan and other states forcibly kissed a subordinate who had previously worked with him. Sanders denied having any knowledge of a $30,000 federal discrimination settlement from the 2016 campaign, reported by Politico, involving two former staffers and tied to Becker. Becker denied the allegations in a text to CNN.

Last Wednesday, CNN reported Sanders’ former presidential campaign manager Jeff Weaver would not return in that role if Sanders runs for president in 2020. 

Sanders first apologized in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on January 2, following a report by The New York Times detailing allegations of sexual harassment by several female employees from the 2016 campaign, disparities in pay and what they described as an uncomfortable or inappropriate work environment.

“I am not going to sit here and tell you that we did everything right in terms of human resources, in terms of addressing the needs that I’m hearing from now, that women felt they were disrespected, that there was sexual harassment which was not dealt with as effectively as possible,” he told CNN.

But Sanders’ reply when asked if he had been aware of the issues at the time – he said he had been “a little bit busy running around the country trying to make the case” – worried allies who were concerned those words would undermine the senator’s apology.