The White House is working frantically to find a new secretary of labor candidate after President Trump's original pick, Andrew Puzder, abruptly withdrew from consideration, the AP reports. Republicans grumbled about the stream of "distractions," including the torrent of criticism about Puzder's personal life and his record as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., but what ultimately drained him of enough GOP support for confirmation was his acknowledgment—well after Trump had become president—of employing a housekeeper not authorized to work in the US. Puzder said he had fired the employee about five years ago. But he did not pay the related taxes until after Trump nominated him as labor secretary on Dec. 9.
It's not clear that Trump's aides asked the immigration question before the nomination even though such issues have sunk past presidential nominations and Trump has taken a hard line on people in the US illegally. People who were interviewed during the transition period said they were not asked by Trump's team to provide vetting information, raising questions about the level of scrutiny. Ultimately, Republicans made it clear that Puzder lacked the votes in a chamber narrowly split between Republicans and Democrats. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Lamar Alexander, who would have chaired Puzder's confirmation hearing Thursday, issued statements praising Puzder's qualifications but saying they "respect" his decision. (Read more Andy Puzder stories.)