Andrew Puzder has removed himself from consideration as US president Donald Trump’s labor secretary, after weeks of growing pressure over domestic violence allegations and his hiring of an undocumented maid.
His withdrawal creates another headache for an administration that just fired scandal-plagued national security adviser Mike Flynn and is still struggling to key to fill crucial positions including White House communications director.
Puzder is CEO of the CKE restaurant chain, which includes Hardee’s and Carl Jr’s, and the idea of a fast food boss protecting workers’ rights had raised eyebrows from the start. Puzder has a history of opposing minimum wage increases and overtime pay—not to mention the unapologetic objectification of women in ads for his restaurants.
Rumors of his withdrawal had swirled since early January, with his confirmation hearings long-delayed due to tardy financial disclosure forms. But the last straws may have been a lawsuit brought by his workers for labor violations and an unearthed film of Puzder’s ex-wife on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, alleging that he had abused her and had “vowed revenge” for exposing him. (She subsequently retracted the allegations as part of a custody agreement.)
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell informed the White House on Wednesday that he couldn’t garner enough Republican votes to secure his confirmation.
This is the first scalp for Senate Democrats, who pushed education secretary Betsy DeVos to the tightest vote ever on a cabinet confirmation; vice president Mike Pence had to break a 50-50 deadlock. Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and health secretary Tom Price squeaked through by a handful of votes.
The Democrats’ Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer couldn’t contain his glee.