Will Oprah Video of Battered Ex-Wife Sink Trump's Labor Secretary Nominee?

Senators view tape of Andrew Puzder's ex-wife who talked about abuse on camera and in court filings.

Andrew Puzder speaking at the 2016 FreedomFest at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder beat his wife, "vowed revenge" when she left, and went public with charges of abuse, according to a tape viewed Tuesday by senators who will vote on Puzder's confirmation Thursday.

With four Republican senators refusing to commit to voting for Puzder, the former chief executive of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains, Puzder's confirmation is in doubt. 

Lisa Fierstein made the allegations about her ex-husband in a May 1988 court filing and on a March 1990 episode of the Oprah Winfrey show given to the Senate Heath, Education and Pensions (HELP) Committee, a copy of which was obtained by Politico. (Watch the video.)

Fierstein later withdrew the allegations as part of an agreement to gain custody of her children. In an email to Puzder in November, she said he was "not abusive." In a January letter to the Senate Committee, she said she regretted her TV appearance.

But at the time, Fierstein, who went by the name Lisa Henning, told a different story. The 1988 court filing said that Puzder "assaulted and battered [the] Plaintiff by striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulder and neck, without provocation or cause."

"Most men who are in positions like that don't leave marks," Fierstein told Winfrey. "The damage that I sustained you can't see. It's permanent... They don't hit you in the face. They're too smart. They don't hit you in front of everyone."

Two of the four Republican senators who have not committed to supporting Puzder are Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both of whom voted against Betsy DeVos, President Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education. The other two are Tim Scott of South Carolina and Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Scott has said he was most concerned about Puzder's failure to pay taxes on an undocumented immigrant who once worked for him.

The Democrats, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, need to pick up three Republican votes to defeat Puzder's confirmation.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet's Washington correspondent. He is the author of The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin's Press).

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