Senators in both parties have viewed an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in which Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder’s former wife leveled allegations of physical abuse against him, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The decades-old video, which is not easily found, has been provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, those sources said. The video has been provided to senators in a Capitol Hill office building, according to people who have seen it. OWN did not immediately comment for this story.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that will vote on Puzder’s nomination, said she was “deeply troubled” by the video.
“It was important for us to know all of the information about any candidate that comes before us,” Murray said in an interview.
Last month POLITICO reported that Puzder’s former wife, Lisa Fierstein, appeared in disguise on Oprah to discuss her abuse allegations, which she has since retracted, most recently in a letter to the Senate HELP Committee. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has reviewed the episode, as well, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Collins is among at least four GOP senators undecided on Puzder. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Tim Scott of South Carolina are also not decided on his nomination. All serve on the HELP Committee.
GOP leaders said that they were confident that Puzder would prevail. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the nomination was “all good.”
“Full speed ahead. I’ve talked to a number of [undecided senators] and I’m confident he’ll be confirmed. He’s a good nominee,” Cornyn said.
Puzder’s confirmation hearing is Thursday. Collins said nothing about what Puzder said on the tape, or when it was made. (Fierstein first retracted the abuse charges as part of a November 1990 child custody agreement.) She told reporters that she is “going to wait until the issues that have arisen are fully explored at his hearing” before she makes a decision.
Another senator that has viewed the video also declined to describe it.
The Campaign For Accountability, a left-leaning nonprofit, will appear Tuesday in court in St. Louis County to try to unseal divorce-related documents concerning the abuse charges that were sealed after Puzder’s nomination.