President Trump and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly do not regularly give on-the-record interviews. But both men recently sat down with Jeanine Pirro, the fiery Fox News host whom Trump adores, for her upcoming book on the Trump presidency, White House officials said.
The White House communications shop arranged the 30-minute interview with Pirro and the chief of staff in the West Wing, two White House officials said. Trump gave her an even longer interview, one of these officials said.
The president has also encouraged other advisers to interview with Pirro, officials said.
The cooperation with Pirro further illustrates the inordinate power of the conservative-leaning Fox cable channels on the Trump presidency. The president usually begins his morning with the “Fox & Friends” show on Fox News, often sending tweets that correspond with the show’s headlines and programming. The show even partially fueled his decision this week to call for sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
He also watches Sean Hannity’s show in the evenings, regularly calling the host before or after the program to test ideas or give feedback. And he considers Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs a close adviser.
Aides sometimes plot to have guests make points on Fox that they have been unable to get the president to agree to in person. “He will listen more when it is on TV,” a senior administration official said.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss private talks.
But aides say there are few shows the president fancies as much as “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” a Saturday Fox News show that Trump makes sure to watch live or record, whether he is in the White House or at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Pirro, formerly a prosecutor in New York, often delivers strident defenses of the president and scores high ratings, which the president notes to advisers.
A Fox News spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
In the White House communications shop, officials rotate going on Pirro’s show because they know Trump will be watching — and partially to prevent him from calling in himself, several officials said, as he did earlier this year.
“Someone has to be on the show every week,” an official said.
Pirro has given the president legal advice in the West Wing about the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election and has shared some of his grudges, particularly about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in her frequent conversations with Trump, advisers say.
“You know who,” Trump said when he called into her show earlier this year, implicitly criticizing Sessions for not investigating his opponents.
“I think I know, Mr. President,” she said, grinning.
Her show is almost universally positive about Trump. The president was frustrated recently when conservative commentator Ann Coulter sharply criticized him on Pirro’s show, saying that one reason Trump signed a spending bill that did not include enough money for a border wall was because he wanted to go to Mar-a-Lago.
“This guy is the hardest-working guy who has ever been in the White House,” Pirro said. “He doesn’t sleep, and he works day and night.”
The president has faced a rough go with at least one book. Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” painted the White House as dysfunctional and Trump as moronic and narcissistic. While the book was preapproved by the White House and Trump had praised Wolff, the final product led to days of crisis communications and the banishment of Stephen K. Bannon, the former strategist who was critical of the White House in the book.
But Pirro, who recently went on an expedition to Chappaqua, N.Y., to mock Hillary Clinton, even lurking in the woods on a whimsical hunt for the 2016 Democratic candidate, is unlikely to disappoint Trump.
The book is called “Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy.” It is due out in June.