Update, 5:05 p.m. ET: Puzder has withdrawn his nomination to lead the Department of Labor.
Politico on Wednesday published what had been until now a missing tape of the ex-wife of President Donald Trump’s nominee for labor secretary alleging in a 1990 taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that he had abused her during their marriage.
Lisa Fierstein, Labor Secretary-designate Andy Puzder’s ex-wife, told Oprah during the taping that Puzder had “vowed revenge” when she divorced him.
“The most frightening thing was leaving, because once I made that break, and once I made it public — and remember, my ex-husband was a public figure, everyone knew him and knew what he was doing — and once I made that public, he vowed revenge,” she said. “He said ‘I will see you in the gutter. This will never be over, you will pay for this.’”
Fierstein appeared under a fake name on the show, wearing a wig and dark glasses. She also alleged that Puzder physically abused her during the couples’ 1989 divorce proceedings. In a statement in December 2016, she said, “Many years ago I impulsively filed for divorce and was counseled to file allegations that I regretted and subsequently withdrew over 30 years ago. Andy is a wonderful father, a great person and was a good husband.”
“I wound up losing everything. Everything. I have nothing,” she said on “Oprah.” “He has a Porsche and a Mercedes-Benz. He has the home, he has everything. He was an attorney, and he knew how to play the system. I was married for 14 years. But it wasn’t until one day I realized this had nothing to do with God, as you just said. This was not a relationship, this was a belief in something that didn’t exist.”
“Most men who are in positions like that don’t leave marks,” Fierstein said as the show’s credits rolled. “The damage that I sustained, you can’t see. It’s permanent damage, but there’s no mark, and there never was. They don’t hit you in the face. They’re too smart. They don’t hit you in front of anyone.”
A spokesman for both Fierstein and Puzder, George Thompson, told Politico that the former couple “are close friends today and often spend time together, but none of that context seems to matter to Andy’s critics. Perpetuating these retracted 30-year-old allegations and an impulsive decision to appear on a talk show is nothing more than a desperate attempt to tarnish Andy Puzder at the expense of Lisa and their family.”
Responding to Fierstein’s remarks that “most men who are in positions like that don’t leave marks. The damage that I sustained, you can’t see,” Thompson said, “This supports their collective claims that Andy was never physically abusive.”
Watch clips from Fierstein’s appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” below: