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Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in July 2019. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders told Elizabeth Warren during a private 2018 meeting that a woman couldn't win the 2020 presidential election, CNN reported Monday.

The state of play: The report comes two days after the Sanders campaign distributed scripts for volunteers that argued that Warren is "bringing no new bases into the Democratic Party," and that "people who support her are highly-educated, more affluent people who are going to show up and vote Democratic no matter what."

  • CNN cites "the accounts of four people: two people Warren spoke with directly soon after the encounter, and two people familiar with the meeting."
  • Three of those four sources told CNN that Warren pushed back on Sanders' assertion.
  • The report also states the two future presidential candidates agreed to a non-aggression pact during the meeting, saying they should "remain civil and avoid attacking one another, so as not to hurt the progressive movement."

What they're saying: Sanders denied CNN's characterization of the meeting in a statement to the news network.

"It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn't win. It's sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren't in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016."
— Bernie Sanders
  • Warren's communications director Kristen Orthman declined to comment.

Between the lines: The most important line in this story is that Warren’s campaign declined to comment. She was in the room for Sanders' alleged comment — and, by not commenting, she allows the story to run.

  • The bottom line: The incident shows the gloves are off in the fight between the two liberal leaders in the Democratic primary.

Go deeper:

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The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

Cuomo: "I am not going to resign"

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Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."