After pardoning over 70 people on the final day of his presidency, including Lil Wayne and Steve Bannon, Donald Trump added one more at the eleventh hour. Getting in right before noon on Inauguration Day — when Joe Biden would officially be sworn in as president — Trump pardoned the ex-husband of Fox News anchor Jeanine Pirro, doing favors for his friends right up until his last minutes in office.
Albert J. Pirro, Jr. was not originally on Trump’s radar when he went on his pardoning spree. Pirro, Jr.’s name was not on the original list of 73 pardons released by the White House on Tuesday, either, which apparently upset Judge Jeanine. According to CNN, Jeanine Pirro asked Trump to pardon her ex, who had served a year in prison after being convicted in 2000 on conspiracy and tax evasion charges for writing off $1.2 million of personal expenses as business write-offs. Mid-morning Wednesday, as members of the Trump administration were transferring their duties to the incoming staff, aides scrambled to have the last minute request completed before Biden officially took office.
“I’m in shock. I went to bed last night having read the list assuming I wasn’t getting a pardon,” Pirro, Jr. told The Daily Beast. “It certainly is a nice act on the part of the president. It has been 20 years since I served my time and it allows me to engage again in public companies, which I haven’t been able to do previously.”
Judge Jeanine has been a staunch defender of Trump in her role on Fox News, and Pirro, Jr., a real estate development lawyer, had represented the Trump organization prior to his conviction. It appears that loyalty paid off. Despite the fact that the two have been divorced for over a decade and their 32-year marriage was a tumultuous one, Pirro still apparently felt compelled to call in a personal favor for her ex.
But ultimately, the pardon of Pirro, Jr. is yet another example of Trump using the power of the presidency to benefit people close to him or people he feels can be helpful to him politically. Like his pardons of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Bannon, Trump has an affinity for bailing out people who are as crooked and corrupt as he is. It’s a disgusting use of power, but a wholly unsurprising one coming from a man who is incapable of seeing around his own ego and sense of grandiosity.