Trump labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdraws after release of abuse allegations tape

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump's nominee for labor secretary, withdrew from consideration for the post after the release of a tape of his ex-wife accusing him of spousal abuse on a 1990 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.

"After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for secretary of labor," Puzder said in a statement. "While I won't be serving in the administration, I fully support the president and his highly qualified team."

On Jan. 10, Politico reported on the existence of the Oprah episode entitled "High Class Battered Women," in which Puzder's ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, appeared in disguise and accused him of domestic abuse. 

According to Politico, the Oprah Winfrey Network provided a tape of the episode to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at its request; the committee had been overseeing Puzder's nomination. The network did not release the tape to the public, but Politico, which obtained the tape from another woman on the episode, released it Wednesday.

"Most men who are in positions like that don't leave marks," Fierstein says in the interview. "They don't hit you in the face. They're too smart. They don't hit you in front of everyone."

Fierstein later retracted her allegations as part of a child custody agreement, claiming they had been a tactic used to gain leverage in the negotiations.

Representatives for Puzder vehemently denied the allegations against him. 

"Perpetuating these retracted 30-year-old allegations and an impulsive decision to appear on a talk show is nothing more than a desperate attempt to tarnish Andy Puzder at the expense of Lisa and their family," Puzder spokesman George Thompson wrote in a statement, according to Politico.

Prior to his withdrawal, multiple news outlets reported Puzder did not have sufficient Republican support to be confirmed in the Senate. On Wednesday, CNN reported that as many as 12 Republican senators were considering opposing Puzder.

In addition to the spousal abuse allegations, Puzder was set to face tough questions over the fact he employed an undocumented housekeeper for years as well as his controversial tenure as CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast-food chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr. 

Some conservative media outlets also opposed Puzder due to his support for increased levels of legal immigration.