A few months ago I joked with a friend that the myriad bizarre stories coming out of the Trump administration had begun to read like something out of Chaucer – call them the “Trumperbury Tales” – stories which were individual, varied and specific, but tangentially related by a common venue, in the Oval Office. But the recent spate of presidential pardon-related stories seems to put us on a level playing field with the great medieval poet, in a direct comparison with Chaucer’s “The Pardoner’s Tale.”
Trump had first exercised his power of pardon with the infamous Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, last August. Arpaio had been a staunch “law and order” Trump supporter in the campaign, a convicted felon awaiting sentencing for flagrant violation of court orders involving immigrant populations. It checked all the boxes on Trump’s “placate the base” score card, so Arpaio duly got his pardon.
There the matter rested for over half a year, until in April 2018 Trump pardoned former Cheney chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, convicted of obstruction of justice and lying to Federal investigators in the Valerie Plame CIA agent outing case. Again, something calculated to appeal to the loyalists, as well as dissing the concept of Special Prosecutors in general.
Then in late May came the pardons of Jack Johnson, a former heavyweight boxing champ long since dead, convicted of violations of the Mann Act; and of Dinesh D’Souza, an extreme rightwing pundit and provocateur who had been convicted of campaign finance violations, in making “straw purchase” contributions exceeding legal limits. In all cases, Trump did an end-run around the usual pardon protocol, which typically is vetted by the Justice Department and action recommended. Trump jumped right to the chase and did as he wished, using what he considered his constitutionally mandated complete authority in this arena.
After D’Souza’s pardon, the airwaves began lighting up with talk of Trump’s power to pardon individuals currently subject to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations, including himself. Over the first weekend of June, a New York Times article revealed the existence of a letter from Trump’s legal team to Mueller’s office, asserting that the president could not be indicted, prosecuted, or even subpoenaed; was incapable of obstructing justice since he has total control over all Justice Department investigations, to initiate, continue or close them; and retained full pardon power in all instances. Trump’s current chief “TV lawyer”, Rudy Giuliani, repeatedly declared on the Sunday shows that not only can Trump pardon himself, he could have shot James Comey and not even been subject to indictment.
This was followed up by an early morning Tweet from the president himself on the Monday, with Trump vociferously reiterating, “I have the absolute power to pardon myself,” though quickly qualifying this by stating it would never be necessary, since he had “done nothing wrong.”
So what’s up with all the pardon brouhaha of late? The act of pardoning, on a planetary level, would seem to fall under the purview of several bodies. As an act of judicial intervention or official mercy, it’s Jupiter, but as an act of forgiveness, it comes within Venus’ mandate. Uranus might be involved, if the pardon recipient is currently incarcerated and receives his or her freedom as a result.
If the pardon is intended to right a wrong and confer overdue justice, then mythic asteroids Themis and Justitia, named respectively for the Greek and Roman goddesses of justice, will have something to say about it. Unfortunately, there is no “Pardon” asteroid, but there is a close match in asteroid Pardina. Plugging this into the charts of those pardoned, the timing of the pardons themselves, and Donald Trump’s natal chart, upcoming Solar Return, and the “Pardon Tweet” yielded some interesting results.
The furor over the pardon issue came to crescendo over the weekend of June 2 and 3, first with the New York Times revelation of the letter from Trump’s legal team to Mueller, then with Giuliani’s repeated assertions on numerous TV and internet outlets of Trump’s power to pardon himself, and finally on Monday the 3rd with the President’s own Tweet on the topic. During this time, the Sun transited from 11 through 13 Gemini, and Donald Trump’s natal Pardina falls at 12 Gemini, right in the midst of this. This makes the subject of pardons one which would naturally be on Trump’s mind at that time, and on public display.
From there, Pardina is just at the outer edge of orb in conjunction to his 22 Gemini Sun, but more closely aligned with natal Uranus at 17 Gemini, and trine natal Chiron and Jupiter at 14 and 17 Libra. So Trump feels the power as innately his own (Sun), and he uses it controversially, in an unorthodox manner (Uranus), in maverick ways (Chiron), as an essentially political act (Jupiter).
So far so good.
When Trump’s Tweet was sent at 8:35 AM EDT on 3 June 2018, a Venus-Pluto opposition was forming in the sky, angular on the Horizontal Axis. Venus (forgiveness) at 18 Cancer conjoins the 21 Cancer Ascendant (which is atop Trump’s own Venus at 25 Cancer), with Pluto at 20 Capricorn on the Descendant. Pardina combines with Nemesis at 8 and 7 Taurus, and these trine Saturn at 7 Capricorn, which itself exactly opposes asteroid America at 7 Cancer, a signal that a self-referential use of the power, as described in the Tweet, could lead to his downfall (Nemesis), with penalties to ensue (Saturn) from the nation at large (America). Even Giuliani conceded that, if Trump were to pardon himself, immediate impeachment would be the likely result, but if Trump is facing a choice between removal from office and imprisonment, can anyone doubt which course he’d take?
Asteroid Whitehouse at 26 Aries conjoins Uranus at 0 Taurus – a shocking development in the Oval Office; while Washingtonia at 12 Pisces conjoins Neptune at 16 – a confused, befuddled response from lawmakers (Senator Ted Cruz, for example, took a full 17 seconds after being asked about the issue before he responded that he was not familiar with that aspect of constitutional law and could not comment). Icarus at 25 Pisces opposes Troemper at 22 Virgo, and together these form a T-Square with Trump’s natal Sun, doubling down on the rash, reckless nature of the proposition, with Icarus activating both Trump’s transit celestial referent and his natal Sun.
The Nemesis/Pardina conjunction repeats in Trump’s 2018 Solar Return, which occurs ten days after the Tweet. So the potential undoing from pardoning himself remains a factor throughout the coming year. At 11 and 13 Taurus in the Solar Return, these oppose Jupiter at 14 Scorpio, which could act to inflate the situation and cause Trump to over-extend himself.
At this point, Trump’s future actions are of course speculative, but with hindsight we can look back over Trump’s prior pardons to validate the role Pardina plays.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio shares a birthday with Trump, born June 14th, but 14 years earlier, in 1932. He sports two exact conjunctions which shed light on how his pardon developed: one shows Themis exact with Whitehouse at 9 Capricorn, implying a direct connection between the Oval Office and his own personal sense of justice. These oppose Venus, prompting forgiveness, at 14 Cancer. The other is of Troemper and Saturn, exact at 4 Aquarius, linking Trump directly with the concept of punishment; in this case, punishment deferred, since the pardon was granted before Arpaio had been sentenced. Arpaio’s natal Pardina at 15 Aquarius is stationary, turning retrograde on the day of his birth, marking the issue of pardon as important in his life. It is also opposed natal Justitia and Jupiter, at 17 and 18 Leo, defining any pardon as a political act (Jupiter), albeit with the intention of enacting justice (Justitia).
When Arpaio received his pardon on August 25, 2017, transit Whitehouse at 20 Aquarius had just conjoined natal Pardina, and was also conjoined natal asteroid Josephina (for Joseph “Joe” Arapaio) at 25 Aquarius (on their midpoint), both in trine to his natal Sun at 23 Gemini. Transit Troemper and Josephina are conjunct at 2 and 9 Leo, with Venus at 29 Cancer, binding the two men with the act of forgiveness. Transit Pardina at 20 Capricorn conjoined Pluto at 17 and exactly opposing Arpaio’s natal Pluto at 20 Cancer, doubly underscoring the transformation in Arpaio’s circumstances wrought by the pardon, with Pardina also exactly squared transit Jupiter, that act of mercy and judicial intervention, at 20 Libra.
Next up, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Born 22 August 1950, we again see a connection between Pardina and Justitia, pardon and justice, which ideally, will always go hand in hand. Pardina at 24 Gemini opposes Justitia at 22 Sagittarius, as it does in Arpaio’s chart. And once again, both Whitehouse and Troemper are emphasized, with Whitehouse at 7 Scorpio an exact match for natal Mars, and Troemper at 5 Capricorn in a stationary position, about to turn direct three days later. Troemper is also tightly squared natal asteroid Libby at 6 Aries, linking the two men personally.
When Libby received his pardon on April 13, 2018, transit asteroids Whitehouse, Pardina and Libby were clumped together at 7, 12 and 19 Aries respectively, with Whitehouse and Pardina both conjoined natal Libby. Transit Libby is within orb of the transit Sun at 23 Aries, highlighting him for the day. Pardina is semisquare natal asteroid Lewis at 26 Taurus, while transit Lewis at 3 Capricorn conjoins natal Troemper. Transit Troemper at 19 Virgo was exactly inconjunct Libby, with Themis at 19 Taurus aspecting each, and transit Troemper exactly atop Libby’s natal Saturn. Libby’s 30-month prison sentence had already been commuted by George W. Bush in 2007, but Trump’s action removed the stain of conviction.
Jack Johnson’s pardon was the most out-of-the-box for Trump, thus far. The first black heavyweight boxing champion, later in life Johnson was convicted of violations of the Mann Act, for conveying women (allegedly prostitutes) across state lines for immoral purposes. And perhaps therein lies the answer to Trump’s mediation, seeing a kindred spirit in Johnson’s consorting with prostitutes. Also, Johnson died just four days before Trump’s birth, providing something of a personal connection.
Born 31 March 1878, Johnson sports a conjunction of Whitehouse and Pardina at 8 and 11 Taurus, prefiguring his eventual presidential pardon, more than seventy years after his death. Natal Troemper at 23 Aquarius conjoins Venus at 0 Pisces, indicating Trump proffering forgiveness, and squares natal Pluto at 24 Taurus, establishing Trump as a transformational figure in Johnson’s story.
When Johnson was pardoned on May 24th, transit Pardina at 3 Taurus was returning to Whitehouse and its natal degree, energizing that latent potential. Transit Whitehouse at 22 Aries was an exact match for Johnson’s natal Mercury, propelling him into the news again, with transit Troemper at 22 Virgo in exact inconjunct to both, and also inconjunct natal Troemper, forming a temporary Yod, or Finger of Destiny. Transit Johnson at 0 Virgo squared the 3 Gemini Sun, pulling more focus to Johnson.
Which brings us to Trump’s latest, and perhaps most controversial, pardon, of Dinesh D’Souza, on May 31st. Born 25 April 1961, D’Souza also has an exact conjunction between Saturn and Troemper, like Joe Arpaio. At 29 Capricorn these square both natal Mercury at 28 Aries and the natal Sun at 5 Taurus, marking Trump as personally important to D’Souza. Natal Whitehouse at 3 Pisces conjoins Jupiter at 5, and both square natal Pardina at 5 Sagittarius, suggesting mercy (Jupiter) in the form of a presidential (Whitehouse) pardon (Pardina). These form a T-Square with natal Pluto at 5 Virgo, once again highlighting the transformational nature of the interaction.
When D’Souza was pardoned on May 31, transit Pardina at 6 Taurus had just conjoined his Sun, while the transit Sun at 10 Gemini was still opposing natal Pardina at 5 Sagittarius. Transit Whitehouse at 25 Aries squared natal Troemper/Saturn and conjoined transit Uranus, evoking more controversy from the Oval Office.
No examination of the effects of Pardina would be complete without reference to the most famous presidential pardon of them all, when Gerald Ford pardoned his successor, Richard Nixon, who had resigned in disgrace in August 1974. Born 9 January 1913, Nixon’s Pardina at 24 Leo is squared by asteroid Ford at 26 Scorpio, his eventual pardoner. When the reprieve came through on 8 September 1974, Pardina at 13 Sagittarius conjoined Nixon’s natal IC at 16 Sagittarius, with transit Whitehouse also conjunct from 19 Sag. Certainly Nixon had reached his nadir (IC), and a presidential pardon (Whitehouse/Pardina) was the only way out of prosecution for his crimes. Asteroid Ford at 9 Virgo conjoined the 15 Virgo Sun, rising on Nixon’s 17 Virgo Ascendant, and both squared Pardina. Ford himself (born 14 July 1913) had Pardina at 7 Virgo in square to Whitehouse at 11 Sagittarius, so the transit Ford/Pardina square overlaid that natal pattern nicely.
So from the evidence, it seems Pardina has a role to play in pardons, at least until something better comes along.
Author’s Note: As we went to press, news broke that on June 6th Donald Trump had commuted the sentence of 63-year-old Alice Johnson, a grandmother sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for a nonviolent first drug offense. Fellow Reality TV star Kim Kardashian had come to plead her cause with the President at the Oval Office on May 30th. While not a full pardon (Ms. Johnson’s conviction remains on the record, but she will be released from prison), this act also resonated with the pattern described above.
The transit Sun at 16 Gemini is still within orb of Trump’s natal Pardina at 12 Gemini; Alice Johnson’s (born 30 May 1955) natal Sun/Alice conjunction at 8 and 10 Gemini is also conjoined. Johnson sports a natal Venus/Troemper conjunction at 13 and 18 Taurus, depicting Trump offering forgiveness, which transit Pardina is encountering from 9 Taurus (its distance here may explain the lack of a full pardon). Her natal Whitehouse at 29 Scorpio is in a broad out-of-Sign opposition to her Sun.
Trump’s pardoning of two offenders with the surname Johnson in as many weeks begs the question: what’s up with that? Asteroid Johnson falls at 9 Cancer in Trump’s birth chart, conjoining Mercury at 8 Cancer and opposing Whitehouse at 4 Capricorn, perhaps helping to explain why he took these newsworthy decisions while at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Alice Johnson’s natal Pardina at 11 Cancer also conjoins Trump’s natal Johnson, possibly prompting the commutation.
Alice Johnson is the first person pardoned by Trump who was actually incarcerated at the time; this is reflected in the ongoing Whitehouse/Uranus conjunction (now at 27 Aries and 1 Taurus), which suggests attainment of freedom (Uranus) from the auspices of the president (Whitehouse). Natally Johnson has a Uranus/Jupiter conjunction (freed in an act of mercy) at 25 and 27 Cancer, about to be transited by Venus (forgiveness), approaching from 21 Cancer, with Jupiter exactly squared by transit Whitehouse.