President Donald Trump plugged Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show on his Twitter account on Saturday morning, and when the episode finally aired that evening, the host and former prosecutor led things off by calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to resign. Hours after Trump pointed his 27 million Twitter followers to her show, Pirro opened it by stating unambiguously that Ryan’s speakership should end, owing to his failure to cobble together enough votes to pass the American Healthcare Act (also known as the AHCA, or popularly, Trumpcare) through the House.
As she said:
Paul Ryan needs to step down as Speaker of the House. The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace Obamacare. The one that he had seven years to work on. The one he hid under lock and key in the basement of Congress. The one that had to be pulled to avoid the embarrassment of not having the votes to pass.
Pirro also conspicuously defended Trump from any blame over the legislation’s stunning collapse, saying that “no one expected” a political novice and outsider to be able to navigate the ins and outs of Washington.
Folks, I want to be clear: This is not on President Trump. No one expected a businessman to completely understand the nuances, the complicated ins and outs of Washington and its legislative process. How would he know which individuals upon whom he would be able to rely? Many of them friends and establishment colleagues of Speaker Ryan. You, on the other hand Speaker Ryan, know very well who are the 15 hardliners, the ten moderates, and all the other ones.
The upshot of Pirro’s segment was not subtle: despite Trump’s months and months of insisting he could fix a broken political system on the strength of business-style negotiations and his own intellect and savvy, the former prosecutor let him off the hook entirely. Instead, she scorched Ryan over the failure. The fact that she did so mere hours after Trump implored his followers to watch her show led many to conclude that he knew what was coming and that he is now agitating (albeit passive-aggressively) to have Ryan booted from the speakership.
According to Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, senior aides to both Trump and Ryan denied that he plugged her show with any anticipation or knowledge of how she’d open it. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, in particular, called the whole thing “coincidental.”
Unbelievable though that might sound, there is another possible explanation for Trump’s plug, which was noted by Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy soon after it happened. Namely, earlier in the day (during Fox & Friends, a show Trump watches and has frequently appeared on via phone) the chyron included a box promoting Pirro’s upcoming episode, promising “stunning new details” on the president’s unsupported, overwhelmingly rebuked and unraveled claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
Hmm… Earlier today "Fox & Friends" was teasing "stunning new details" on Trump's wiretapping claims set to air during Judge Jeanine's show pic.twitter.com/Cceu2h9lyu— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 25, 2017
In other words, as awkward and unlikely as it seems, it’s not impossible that the Trump and Ryan teams are right about this—that the president, reportedly a huge cable news junkie, wanted to yet again rehash his wiretapping allegations, rather than send a message about Ryan. If that’s the real explanation, however, the timing couldn’t have been worse.