Consciousness of Guilt
He did it.
Spetember 26th 2019
Robert Harrington, in a piece titled the same as this one, was kind enough to pull the legal definition of “Consciousness of Guilt” from RationalWiki. It reads:
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.
We’re in a very peculiar situation where no honest person can look at the evidence, mostly provided by Trump’s own words and actions, and have any reasonable doubt that he is guilty of obstruction of justice, a cover-up, misuse of office, and efforts to impede legal investigations into his actions through working corruption of office [cough, Barr and Kavanaugh, /cough].
During Watergate, even those of us willing to believe the worst of Nixon had, if not a frisson of doubt, at least the frustrated knowledge that the available evidence might not be enough to get an honest verdict of guilty. At least, not until the 8-0 Supreme Court ruling that forced Nixon to release the unredacted tapes. Then, finally, there was no longer any doubt. Nixon plunged in public opinion polls, Republicans stopped putting up any real resistance to the impeachment hearings, and a head count in the House made it clear Nixon would be impeached on at least four counts.
Two weeks later, he was gone.
In 48 hours, we covered the same amount of ground that the Watergate scandal covered between July 13, 1973 and July 24, 1974. Why those two dates, slightly over a year apart? The first was the day Alexander Butterfield revealed to Congress that Nixon taped all his Oval Office discussions, and the world suddenly realized that here was evidence that could impeach or exculpate Nixon. The second date was when the SC said, “Turn ‘em over.”
The tapes were released to the public on August 5th, and included the famous ‘smoking gun’ tape in which Nixon was advised of the break-in. He resigned on the 9th.
Unfortunately on this zeitgeist-y anniversary of August 5th, 1974, I don’t expect to see Trump gone in three days. Oh, it could happen, but Trump is not Nixon. Nixon was corrupt and vicious, if by an order of magnitude less so than Trump, but he was also intelligent, self-aware, and mostly sane. Trump is clearly none of those things and in a nation that had a healthier attitude toward the rich and famous, he would have been gone a year ago. If his candidacy was ever taken seriously in the first place. Hopefully America has learned wealth and power isn’t the same thing as wit and wisdom.
It’s going to get really ugly, and nobody can really say in what ways it will happen. We do know that he’s trying to implicate and possibly destroy vice President Mike Pence. Aside from the usual Trumpian strategy of trying to shift blame to the nearest available target, there is the possibility that he’s hoping the prospect of Nancy Pelosi moving into the first-in-line slot might dissuade Congress from kicking him out of the White House.
The Republicans are probably concluding that Trump has reached the end of his shelf life, and they are doing their own calculations. If I know my Republicans, they are thinking that if Trump abruptly resigns, there’s a good chance there will be scattered violence among what David Brin memorably called “legions of McVeighs” and a possible recession. If general conditions did go south, wouldn’t it be ever so much better if they could play their usual game of gleefully and visciously blaming the nearest Democratic president for all the unrest and bad conditions that they themselves caused? Additionally, Mike Pence at best would be an underwhelming president, and carry with him the stench of Trump’s criminality and cruelty. Indeed, given his complicity in many of Trump’s scandals—yes the same complicity Trump is trying to bring to our attention now—it’s quite likely that the Democrats will be having impeachment hearings for Pence, and an aroused electorate would be preparing another blue tidal wave. A year of Pelosi, they think, could work to their advantage, especially since they still have the Senate and so can keep her hands tied whilst portraying her as a do-nothing ‘caretaker’ President.
But first things first. They have an avowed criminal and seditionist in the Oval Office, and they need to figure out a way to get him out before he takes into his head to drop a nuke on San Francisco or something.
The Dems are not going to rush to an impeachment vote. Yes, they have the evidence, the most solid evidence a Congress has had in an impeachment process since Nixon released the tapes. But they want to implicate the whole rotten gang—Pence, Barr, the family whelps, all of them. They are truly a cancer on America, and if some of the Democrats are using a political calculus of their own about the advantages of full, lengthy hearings, it’s a rare situation where such calculation and serving the national interest are actually congruent.
Yes, I would like to see Trump gone tomorrow. But I think it’s important that they identify, indict, and convict their entire rats’ nest of corruption that has poisoned the county.
Otherwise we will remain enveloped in the miasmic stench of Trumpism. And that cannot be good.