Old Oprah Tape May Scuttle Labor Nominee's Chances

Senators view decades-old domestic abuse allegations against Andrew Puzder
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2017 7:03 AM CST
Old Oprah Tape May Scuttle Labor Nominee's Chances
Oprah Winfrey in 2016.   (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)

Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder's chances of becoming the next labor secretary appear to be in real jeopardy, and one reason is a tape of an Oprah Winfrey show from the 1990s. Senators have viewed the episode, called "High-Class Battered Women," in which Puzder's ex-wife appears in disguise and accuses him of physical abuse, reports Politico. His ex, Lisa Fierstein, later rescinded the allegations as part of a child-custody agreement, per a previous story in Politico. More recently, she wrote a letter to the Senate HELP Committee saying she regrets appearing on the show. "I was hesitant, but encouraged by friends and became caught up in the notion of a free trip to Chicago and being a champion of women and women’s issues." Winfrey's network turned over the tape to the Senate.

"I have gone to review the Oprah show for an hour on which his former wife appeared and I'm reviewing the other information that has come to light," says GOP Sen. Susan Collins, per CNN. "I'm sure all of this will be explored fully." The network reports that Collins and three other Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia—were withholding support for Puzder, raising the prospect that he will be the first nominee of President Trump to fail to gain confirmation. The Washington Post reports that the abuse allegations as well as the racy ads he uses to sell burgers at Hardee's and Carl's Jr. might be enough to doom him. He also has faced criticism over the hiring of an undocumented worker for his home. Republicans would need to get two of the four Republican senators against him to change their minds in order to confirm. (More Oprah Winfrey stories.)

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