The ex-wife of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, appeared in disguise on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” as a victim of domestic violence, after having accused him multiple times of physically assaulting her in the 1980s, according to two friends of hers and a spokesman for the former couple.
Additionally, a 1988 petition obtained by POLITICO from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County provides previously unreported details of the alleged abuse: Puzder’s ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, accused him of having “assaulted and battered [her] by striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck, without provocation or cause,” and that as a consequence she “suffered severe and permanent injuries.”
Fierstein’s accusations first surfaced in local news reports around the time of their divorce. She has retracted the allegations in the weeks leading up to Puzder’s confirmation hearing, suggesting she made them up to bolster her divorce settlement. Puzder has always denied that he abused her.
But women’s groups are using the charges as ammunition in their fight to oppose his nomination. And Fierstein’s appearance on “Oprah,” when she was known as Lisa Henning, raises new questions, showing that she went beyond divorce-settlement tactics to portray herself on national television as an anonymous victim of domestic violence.
Fierstein appeared on the show in a wig and glasses, and was identified only by the made-up name of Ann. Multiple sources, including George Thompson, a spokesman for Puzder and Fierstein, confirmed the appearance. Fierstein did not mention Puzder by name, but a friend of hers who previously worked for her told POLITICO that Fierstein made clear to her that the allegations she made on the program concerned Puzder. Winfrey’s company said it could not locate a tape of the episode.