It’s no secret that the president of the United States watches a lot of cable TV, and particularly the offerings of Fox News, whose various “personalities” mostly share Donald Trump’s very high opinion of himself. It should be even less of a surprise that one of his favorites is Jeanine Pirro, star of Justice With Judge Jeanine, a weekly discussion of legal news.
Aside from Pirro’s relentless support for Trump before and after his election as president (she is one of the most fervent supporters of his conspiracy theories involving his terrible persecution by elements of the Department of Justice and the FBI), she and POTUS go way, way back, to the days when her then-husband Albert Pirro (who subsequently went to the hoosegow for tax evasion associated with the couple’s lavish lifestyle, though nobody blamed her for that) did legal work for Trump and they traveled in a lot of the same Greater New York social and political circles. She was, in fact, a frequent Republican candidate or near candidate for higher office, eventually becoming the 2006 GOP nominee for New York attorney general, losing by a 58/39 margin to Andrew Cuomo.
What makes the Trump-Pirro relationship weird and possibly important is that the judge (she was a Westchester County Court judge for two years in the early 1990s) has reportedly lobbied and been considered for two of the highest positions in the U.S. justice system, as Politico reports:
Pirro has repeatedly told Trump’s aides and advisers over the past 18 months that she’s interested in taking over as the nation’s top law enforcement official, according to four people familiar with the conversations …
Pirro first began talking with transition aides in late 2016 about joining the administration. Though she expressed interest in the attorney general job, when it became clear that job was going with Sessions, she began pushing for deputy attorney general, according to two Trump administration officials.
Given the president’s public and private posture toward the two men he placed at the top of the Justice Department hierarchy, it makes sense that Pirro wouldn’t give up after failing at first. You never know when Sessions and/or Rod Rosenstein will be shown the door, and Trump has made it clear that he wants absolute loyalty from everyone in the Justice Department. She certainly qualifies on that criterion, if not so much on others (her 12 years as a district attorney in Westchester County from 1993–2005 might get her a U.S. Attorney appointment in a normal administration, but that would be about it, and only if the president in question wasn’t embarrassed by the thought of elevating a TV judge).
According to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, though, Pirro’s name was mentioned in connection with a bigger job than those occupied by Sessions and Rosenstein:
Now that’s an interesting idea, albeit one that would strain credulity with any other president. And even in the Trump administration, the idea of profaning one of the president’s most precious assets in his relationship with the conservative movement and the GOP by putting a TV judge on the nation’s highest court is hair-raising. Indeed, back when Trump was getting criticism for “outsourcing” his SCOTUS list to the Federalist Society, her name came up in reference to the road blessedly not taken:
It’s worth remembering how the idea of a Supreme Court shortlist began. To put it mildly, there was a lot of concern during the campaign — and not just among conservatives — about the sort of person Trump might install on the nation’s highest court if he were elected. Would he tap a crony or business associate or even some white-maned guy he met on the golf course who looked the part? (Or maybe Fox News commentator “Judge” Jeanine Pirro?)
This is the sort of scenario that must occasionally trouble the sleep of chief conservative judicial vetter Leonard Leo, and others who have worked tirelessly for so long to turn back the clock on decades of liberal constitutional precedents. “Justice” Jeanine would not pass the laugh test in legal circles. But the confirmation hearings would be must-see TV for sure.