GOP senator on Trump labor nominee hiring undocumented worker: 'He should have known better'

Story highlights

  • "And you know, honestly, he has, I think he has said, he should have known better," Portman said.
  • "I think he has the potential to be one of the thought leaders in the administration," Portman also said.

(CNN)Republican Sen. Rob Portman said Wednesday that Donald Trump's nominee to head the Labor Department, Andrew Puzder, should have known better than hiring an undocumented worker.

Puzder, the head of CKE Restaurants, admitted in a statement last week he had employed an undocumented immigrant for years as a housekeeper. Puzder said in his statement when he learned of her status, he ended her employment and attempted to help her get legal status. Puzder, however, did not pay back taxes on the worker until after his nomination, a spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
A confirmation hearing for Puzder is set for Thursday. Democrats have strongly opposed his nomination.
    Appearing on the Hugh Hewitt Show Wednesday, Portman said, "My position is consistent with the other cabinet nominees, which is you know, I want to see the hearing and ask the questions. I haven't met with him, yet. I haven't had the chance to have that interaction. And I've said I want to see what happens in the hearing and how he answers questions and so on. So we'll see. Look, I think he's got, as I've said publicly, incredible business background as you said. I think he has the potential to be one of the thought leaders in the administration.
    "But he does have some issues, and these are issues related to the Labor Department in the sense of hiring somebody who's illegal and not paying the taxes," he added. "And you know, honestly, he has, I think he has said, he should have known better. And so those are the issues among others that I want to hear from, and then just on the substantive issues, where I think he and I are going to be very similar."