UPDATE 12/12/16: In a statement, Lisa Feirstein (formerly Henning) said she “regretted” these allegations about her ex-husband and praised his character.
“Andy is one of the finest men I have ever known. Many years ago I impulsively filed for divorce and was counseled to file allegations that I regretted and subsequently withdrew over thirty years ago. Andy is a wonderful father, a great person, and was a good husband.”
Andrew Puzder, Donald Trump’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Labor, was accused of domestic abuse by his first wife three decades ago, the Riverfront Times reported Thursday.
In allegations that surfaced during the couple’s 1989 divorce and were reported on by the St. Louis publication at the time, Puzder’s ex-wife Lisa Henning charged that her husband hit her, threw her to the ground, and unplugged the phone after she called police during a 1986 altercation.
Henning sought a protective order against Puzder following that incident, alleging in the court document obtained by the Riverfront Times that he “attacked me, choked me, threw me to the floor, hit me in the head, pushed his knee into my chest twisted my arm and dragged me on the floor, threw me against a wall, tried to stop my call to 911 and kicked me in the back.”
In a separate instance, Henning alleged that Puzder punched her in a car as the couple drove home from dinner one night in 1985.
Police were called to their home in Clayton, Missouri, following the 1986 altercation, and after a shouting match in the late 1970s that devolved into a plate-throwing fight, according to the Riverfront Times.
Puzder, now 66, denied any abuse in a deposition for his divorce and in an interview with the Riverfront Times at that time, accusing the publication of trying to “smear” his reputation.
“There was no physical abuse at any point in time,” he said.
Puzder acknowledged having disagreements with Henning, but claimed that they were mutual and did not involve physical abuse.
Referring to the 1986 altercation, Puzder said in a deposition obtained by the Riverfront Times that his wife was yelling at him and he “grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her back.” He denied pushing her to the floor, saying he didn’t “know if her foot caught or what happened.”
Puzder also denied punching Henning in the 1985 incident in the car, saying in the same deposition that he only remembered the car going up on a curb.
“I think it had to do with the liquid refreshment we had with our dinner more than anything else,” he said.
At the time, Puzder was an anti-abortion activist and chair of then-Gov. John Ashcroft (R)’s Task Force for Mothers and Unborn Children. He went on to become chief executive of CKE restaurants, which owns Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., and other fast food restaurant chains.
Trump officially announced his selection as labor secretary in a Thursday press release, praising Puzder for “his extensive record fighting for workers.”