Donald Trump’s administration was dealt another blow this week as fast-food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination to be labor secretary — at least in part due to abuse accusations made by his ex-wife on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990.
Puzder and his former wife, Lisa Fierstein, had attempted to downplay her past accusations against him during the nomination process, but the power of that decades-old video tape appears to have made a real impact. Bringing that tape to the light of day was no easy task however, as Politico reporter Marianne Levine recounts in a fascinating piece about the search for the decades-old footage.
For those of you wondering, here's how we got the tape https://t.co/P003jz4f1F
— Marianne LeVine (@marianne_levine) February 16, 2017
As Levine looked into the accusations, she discovered that Puzder had moved to seal his divorce records the day after his nomination. In the midst of writing on the records, a lawyer told her that Fierstein had once detailed her abuse on the Oprah show. Finding the episode wouldn’t be easy, however — not only had Fierstein appeared on the show in disguise, but the Oprah Winfrey Network refused to release old episodes or even answer Levine’s questions about when the episode might have aired.
In part thanks to comments made by Fierstein herself in a letter written to the Senate, Levine managed to narrow down the time frame to just two possible years. After searching through newspaper archives, she uncovered a promising lead: an Oprah episode titled “High Class Battered Women.” Efforts to recover a copy of the episode, however, were refuted by the Oprah Winfrey Network. Finally, Levine managed to get in contact with Charlotte Fedders, a domestic violence victim who had also appeared on the episode. Fedders said she still had a copy of the tape, and offered to provide it.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, told reporters on Monday that she had seen the tape — which was reportedly made available to the Senate by the Oprah Winfrey Network on condition that the episode not be made public. Senators from both parties were said to have watched the episode in a private screening on Tuesday night.
Democrats cheered Puzder’s withdrawal, hailing the move as a victory for working class voters. “Puzder should never have even been nominated to lead the Labor Department, and Senate Republicans clearly recognized this, too,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “The fact that someone so anti-labor was even nominated shows how far President Trump is from where he campaigned.”
Watch footage of Fierstein on The Oprah Winfrey Show below.
— POLITICO (@politico) February 15, 2017
Read the full story at Politico.