Forgiveness, Trump-style

Thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.

– The Book of Nehemiah

It was a great week for forgiveness. It was the week that the Christian world was celebrating the birth of Christ.  Christ was a friend to sinners during his brief life.  Even as he was having a last meal with his disciples and facing the end of his life, he forgave the sins of a man who was brought to him seeking forgiveness. When on the cross he asked for forgiveness for those responsible for his crucifixion.

Like Jesus, trump who was facing the end of his life as president, found it in his heart extend forgiveness to a wide variety of people.  Unlike those Jesus forgave who were facing the prospect of punishment for their sins at some future time, however,  the trump bestowed forgiveness on sinners who had already been punished for their sins.  The sins for which many of the pardons were forgiven were sins committed by people who in sinning had shown their loyalty to the trump during the period he was applying for residency in the White House or during the time he occupied the premises.  There were, however, a few exceptions to that.

Among the exceptions were pardons given to four murderers who committed their murders in Iraq while in the employ of Eric Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education during the trump administration. The four murderers worked for Erick Prince’s company, Blackwater Worldwide,  a security firm.  The pardons of the murderers had the unfortunate side effect of once again drawing attention to the fact that a cabinet secretary’s brother employed murderers.  Such renewed, and almost certainly unwelcome attention on Betsy and Eric, did nothing to reduce the joy the four murderers almost certainly felt upon learning that their sins had been forgiven, as it were,  and they would soon be free to walk the streets again and obtain gainful employment. The fact that it once again drew attention to Eric and Betsy was something about which,  as the vernacular has it, they could not  have cared less.

Charles Kushner’s pardon was somewhat different, and had he known of the pardon in advance, he might have suggested that the trump not bother issuing it.  Unlike the pardon the trump bestowed on four murderers who were, as a result of the pardon, able to return to normal lives, Charles had been convicted of criminal conduct almost 20 years before his pardon was bestowed. His punishment of a relatively short time in prison has been fully served.

The crimes of which Charles had been convicted  included such mundane things as 18 counts of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. Drawing attention to his conviction for two of those crimes was not the reason Charles did not want the pardon bestowed. It had to do with his conviction for witness tampering.  The witness tampering charge pertained to interactions between him, his sister, and her husband.  The tampering took place before he was convicted or had even been threatened with being charged with any criminal conduct.  He would happily have had that conduct forgotten and not restored to public consciousness by issuance of the pardon.  It was not to be and herewith a brief history.

The Justice Department was investigating Charles for tax fraud and Charles’s sister, Ethel Schuler and her husband, William, were cooperating with the Justice Department in its investigation.  When Charles learned of their cooperation he was, for obvious reasons, outraged at such sibling betrayal.  Accordingly he resolved to even the score and chose a unique way to do that.

Charles hired a prostitute to use her charms to seduce his brother-in-law, William.  He arranged for the encounter to be recorded on video, if not for posterity, at least for a long enough time that he could use it to avenge himself for what he perceived to be sibling perfidy.  After the encounter between William and the prostitute had taken place and successfully filmed, Charles sent the video to his sister on the occasion of her son’s engagement party that she was hosting.

Considering this behavior some 20 years later, an impartial observer might consider Charles’s behavior particularly egregious since it could not have had any effect on the investigation and might have caused his sister’s marriage to fail.  Be that as it may.  That is what he did.  But for the pardon, most of us would have completely forgotten that unfortunate episode in the otherwise exemplary life of Charles Kushner.   If asked about the pardon now that it has been issued, Charles might consider adopting the attitude displayed by Jesus when on the cross, and ask God to forgive trump because he doesn’t know what he is doing.  The rest of us could join in that since we have all suffered the consequences of having the trump demonstrate repeatedly that he hasn’t known what he’s been doing for the last four years.

Christopher Brauchli can be e-mailed at For political commentary see his web page at