Nominee for labour secretary pulls out

Fast-food workers in Anaheim, California, at an anti-Puzder protest on Monday. Mr Puzder's business record and character have come under attack from various groups.
Fast-food workers in Anaheim, California, at an anti-Puzder protest on Monday. Mr Puzder's business record and character have come under attack from various groups.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Fast-food executive Andrew Puzder has withdrawn his nomination to be US labour secretary as Republican senators turned sharply against him, the latest defeat for a White House besieged by infighting and struggling for traction even with a Republican-controlled Congress.

The toppling of one of President Donald Trump's Cabinet picks was a victory for Democrats, unions and liberal groups that had been attacking Mr Puzder's business record and his character since he was chosen last December. Conservative publications, including National Review and Breitbart, had also expressed resistance, zeroing in on Mr Puzder's employment of an immigrant who was in the country illegally as his housekeeper.

And records from his 1988 divorce, disseminated on Tuesday night by opponents, raised spousal abuse accusations that made some Republican senators uncomfortable. His former wife had recanted those accusations, but senators from both parties privately screened a videotape from The Oprah Winfrey Show that featured her laying out the charges while in disguise.

The opposition from Republicans was broad, and the reasons varied.

Mr George Thompson, a spokesman for Mr Puzder, said his treatment had been "an unprecedented smear campaign".

In a statement, Mr Puzder thanked the President and those who supported him for their optimism about the "policies and new thinking" he would have brought to the job.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'Nominee for labour secretary pulls out'. Print Edition | Subscribe