None of Donald Trump’s insistent proclamations, that his conversation by phone with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was perfectly ordinary and innocent of wrongdoing – or “beautiful” as he so oddly put it – can survive the scrutiny of what he and his lawyers did after the call. They went to great lengths to cover it up. They began the coverup by transferring the electronic transcript of the Zelensky call from the computer system where such transcripts normally are stored. That transcript was then loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information.
These actions constitute a coverup, but more than this, they constitute what in legal parlance is known as a “consciousness of guilt.” Rational Wiki provides us with a particularly cogent definition. Pay special attention to the final line:
Consciousness of guilt is a legal concept and a type of circumstantial evidence of guilt. It is based on a criminal suspect who demonstrates a guilty conscience by their actions or speech. Some examples of consciousness of guilt are:
Fleeing from the crime scene or jurisdiction
False statements and lies
Changing one’s name or personal appearance
Concealing or destroying evidence
Witness intimidation or bribery
Generally, any attempts to cover up a crime
Simply put, consciousness of guilt is an action or statement that a person accused of a crime makes that an innocent person would not make.
Clearly Trump’s actions, and those of his lawyers, constitute consciousness of guilt. The phone call to Zelensky was carefully hidden, under the concealing guise of classified information, and hidden in a way inconsistent with the actions of innocent persons in furtherance of ordinary, transparent routine. Knowing he had something to hide in the first place was Trump’s motivation to hide the call in the second place.
That was the first instance of consciousness of guilt. The second instance occurred when Trump and his people interfered with the lawful conveyance of the whistleblower report from the Office of the Inspector General to the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence. The third instance revelatory of consciousness of guilt occurred when Trump and his party of thugs slow-walked the “transcript” of the phone call to relevant parties and the press.
Now that the original whistleblower report is finally in the hands of the duly constituted authorities, watch Trump and his minions crow about how “cooperative” and “transparent” they have been. Yet their clear consciousness of guilt in evidence at every instance will repudiate any attempt on Trump’s part or the part of his apologists to suggest that they have done nothing wrong. What they have done is wrong, and, what is more, through their obvious consciousness of guilt they have convincingly communicated that they knew it was wrong every step of the way.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.