WASHINGTON (CN) – Andrew Puzder has withdrawn his name from consideration to serve as President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, following disclosures that he’d hired an undocumented worker as a housekeeper and had once been accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife.
Puzder, who was scheduled to appear at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday morning, had been under fire for weeks for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper, when senators learned of allegations of domestic abuse first aired on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” 26 years ago.
In a statement Puzder said “After careful consideration and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my nomination for secretary of Labor.”
“I am honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America’s workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity,” the statement continued.
Puzder’s decision was first reported by CBS News, which cited a source saying he would take his name out of consideration because “he’s very tired of the abuse.
The odds of his being confirmed took a major hit in recent days after a tape of Puzder’s ex-wife on a 1990 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” surfaced.
During the episode, titled “High Class Battered Women,” Lisa Fierstein, Puzder’s ex-wife, claimed he abused her and told her, “I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over. You will pay for this” after she went first went public with her allegations.
The couple divorced in 1987, and Fierstein later retracted her allegations as part of a child custody agreement.
But the fact the allegations had been made was enough to shake Republican resolve to confirm a nominee who was already being roundly criticized by Democrats for his
opposition to raising the minimum wage and praising the use of machines in place of workers at his stores.
Puzder was formerly the CEO of the company that owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardees chains and was one of the last Trump appointees who has not testified before a committee.
With the exception of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Trump’s other nominees have enjoyed the unqualified support of GOP lawmakers.
But on Monday, Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina, suggested he was wavering on supporting Puzder’s nomination.
“I think I’m looking forward to hearing how he would take the labor department and transform it really into a workforce-focused department and then want to hear his answers and responses to some of the concerns that we’ve heard a lot about over the last couple weeks,” Scott told reporters on Monday when asked about what he would like to hear at Puzder’s hearing.
Democrats celebrated their apparent first victory over a Trump appointee as news trickled in on Wednesday that he would pull out of the job.
“I am glad Mr. Puzder will withdraw his name from consideration to be the next labor secretary,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a statement. “The simple truth is that given his relationship to employees at the companies he runs, he was not fit to lead a department responsible for defending workers’ rights. We need a secretary of labor who is going to fight to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and pay equity for women. We don’t need a labor secretary who makes millions while his workers are paid starvation wages.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the developing story.