UPDATED with breaking news: President Donald Trump has lost his first cabinet pick. Labor secretary choice Andrew Puzder withdrew himself from consideration this afternoon after four GOP senators said they would give him a thumbs down, joining all 48 Dems to block his approval. CNN broke the news, though it had been expected for much of the afternoon.
TV news outlets are crediting Oprah Winfrey with playing a role in his pull-out. Winfrey had turned over the 1990 “High Class Battered Women” episode of her syndicated talk show to senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, who had been scheduled to hold Andrew Puzder’s confirmation hearing tomorrow. In that episode, Puzder’s ex-wife claimed to have been the victim of spousal abuse, though she later recanted and sent a letter to that effect to the committee.
Multiple TV news outlets already had reported that Puzder’s Senate confirmation hearing had been scrubbed. CBS News reported Puzder did not have the needed support going into the committee hearing. CNN reported Puzder had canceled his confirmation hearing prep work, and MSNBC’s Kelly O’Donnell at the White House cited “multiple sources” who told her Puzder was considered “too great a risk, too early in the administration.”
Among Puzder’s non-fans: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who just finished saying from the podium that his “dripping disdain for people who work for a living … alone disqualifies him. … I was prepared to question him on this tomorrow, but I hope it is true that he will withdraw his nomination before then.”
Asked why Puzder is pulling his name from the running, a source told CBS News, “I think he’s very tired of the abuse” – an interesting choice of words.
The appointment of Puzder, who is CEO of the company that owns Carl’s Jr., was thrown into question when reports surfaced that he and his wife had employed an undocumented worker to do housework and paid no taxes on that employee. And Politico got its hands on, and posted, the Winfrey tape, in which Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, appeared in disguise and using an assumed name, accusing her ex of domestic abuse – claims he repeatedly denied and she retracted a few months after the broadcast. Watch video of the 1990 episode above.
PREVIOUSLY, 9 AM: CBS News has yet to interview its newest 60 Minutes “special contributor” Oprah Winfrey about that 1990 interview she did with the ex-wife of President Donald Trump’s Labor secretary nom. Winfrey turned over the “High Class Battered Women” video to senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, who are scheduled to hold Andrew Puzder’s confirmation hearing tomorrow. Winfrey’s camp would not release the video to the press, but it’s available for public re-consumption, because another woman who appeared in the episode gave a copy to Politico.
Lisa Fierstein, who divorced Puzder in 1987, retracted claims she made made in the interview about eight months after the appearance, as part of a child custody agreement, Politico reports. In her five-minute interview, Fierstein said she had called the cops on her husband and that he told her: “I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this.”
Four GOP senators have expressed reservations about Puzder’s nomination, and no Dems are expected to give him a nod, the political site reports.