A day after “The Closer” failed to deliver the votes for his long-promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act and slunk away to lay the blame on Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, President Trump made a curious (and possibly illegal) tweet in which he encouraged the American people to watch a Fox News program.

The President of the United States is legally barred from making advertisements for products and services, a statute likely violated by this vague missive unrelated to an actual interview or policy item. Or was it?

As it turns out, “Judge Jeanine” Pirro went on air to demand that Paul Ryan resign as Speaker of the House. Which Trump evidently knew about long in advance. Pirro used her time to defend (!) Trump as a clueless businessman who didn’t know Washington and couldn’t possibly have been expected to know who would agree to what legislation:

“Folks, I want to be clear. This is not on President Trump,” she said.

“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 on what individuals he could rely?”

“Ryan has hurt you going forward, and he’s got to go,”

Except that Trump explicitly campaigned on being the only dealmaker who could get things done in Washington, and was being ballyhooed as the great negotiator who would bring the recalcitrant members in line. Certainly Trump doesn’t have the policy chops to write the legislation. So if Paul Ryan is supposed to write the legislation and bang everyone’s heads together, what is Trump useful for, exactly?

Pirro’s opening statement was even more bizarre. Speaking of Ryan, she said:

“You come in with all your swagger and experience and sell them a bill of goods which ends up a complete and total failure and you allow our president, in his first 100 days, to come out of the box like that, based on what?”

Trump had every opportunity to slow down the legislation. He had every opportunity to tell Ryan the bill stunk. He had every opportunity to create the more progressive reforms to Obamacare that he had promised, uniting a populist coalition of Democrats and moderate/Trump-loyal Republicans behind a public option and the repeal of the some of the Affordable Care Act’s more gimmicky taxes. Trump controlled the process at every step. Instead, because he doesn’t care about healthcare and is a terrible negotiator, he just went along with the cruel and slapdash Ryan plan all while wondering if it was actually a good plan or not. He was weak.

Somebody had to take the fall for the fiasco, of course, and the buck never stops with Trump. Nothing is ever Donald Trump’s fault. It had to be Paul Ryan’s fault.

But Trump isn’t even enough of a man to demand Paul Ryan’s resignation himself. He passed it off to a second-tier Fox News host to do it for him. Pathetic.

Update: Credit where credit is due–it looks like Hot Air (yes, I know) might actually have a scoop here. It seems that Trump might have seen a chyron in the morning saying Pirro would have “explosive” Obama wiretap claims, so he promo’ed the show on twitter on a lark. Then Pirro used the hype to make the call for Ryan’s resignation, which would explain why Trump and Priebus are telling people today the tweet and the show’s opening focus was a coincidence.

In which case Trump was an unthinking buffoon who got played by one of his favorite conservative infotainment personalities. Wow.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.