Andrew Puzder, Trump's pick for secretary of labor, reportedly abused his wife


Following reports Donald Trump would be choosing CEO Andrew Puzder as his secretary of labor, details of the fast food giant's troubling record with women popped up, pointing to Puzder's role in popularizing sexist advertisements featuring bikini-clad women eating burgers. 

Puzder's treatment of women, though, may have been far worse when it came to his marriage. According to the Riverfront Times, Puzder faced accusations of domestic abuse against his first wife Lisa Henning in the 1980s, which became public when the couple filed for divorce in 1989.

The divorce documents detailed multiple incidents of physical assault, the first of which includes Puzder hitting Henning, throwing her to the floor and unplugging the phone when she tried to call the police. In a court deposition, Puzder maintained he "grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her back" because he was trying to stop her from hurting herself.

Another incident from the '70s included a verbal argument that turned into a "plate-throwing fight," according to the Riverfront Times. Henning also alleged that Puzder punched her while driving in 1985. When Puzder addressed the accusations he denied punching his wife, but said he recalled driving up onto the curb — a gaffe he said "had to do with the liquid refreshment we had with our dinner more than anything else."

Puzder called the domestic violence accusations "baseless" at the time, stating, "There was no physical abuse at any point in time."

Carolyn Kaster/AP

According to the Riverfront Times, the domestic abuse allegations weren't resolved during the divorce proceedings, and both Puzder and Henning were awarded joint custody of their two children.

Still, the accusations led many to question whether Puzder was fit to author an anti-abortion statute, per the direction of former Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft, in his capacity as a prominent St. Louis lawyer.

"Should someone like Puzder recommend policy for all the women and children in Missouri?" Laura Cohen, coordinator for Missouri's branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League wondered in a 1989 interview with the Riverfront Times. "The ultimate question is 'Who decides?' Will men like this be able to have control over women's most personal and private choices?"

Puzder maintained his name was simply being dragged through the mud.

He called the accusations "what normally happens in a divorce case."

He told the Riverfront Times in '89, "If you're trying to smear me by raising the fact that my ex-wife made some charges against me, you're making a big mistake."

Thursday evening, GOP spokeswoman Lindsay Walters sent the following statement to Mic from Lisa Fierstein, née Henning, regarding the allegations:

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.

She went on to say she and Puzder enjoy a "wonderful relationship" now and that she considers him to be among her "most trusted friends." She denied any incidents involving police, despite the Riverfront Times' report that authorities had been summoned twice to the couple's home. 

"Andy is also one of the hardest working, kindest and most intelligent men I am proud to know," Fierstein said, according to the GOP's statement. "He will be a fantastic addition to the new administration's cabinet."

Dan Sokol, who represented Fierstein in her divorce proceedings, maintained in an interview with Time on Friday that he found the abuse allegations to be "credible." 

"She described it to me as an ongoing pattern with several episodes involving physical violence," he told the publication. "I felt that she was credible, I believed her, and I believed that we could make a case to a judge under the facts that she related to me."

Fierstein did not immediately return request for comment.

Dec. 9, 2016, 3:25 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.