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Could President Trump really be impeached?

来源:FT中文网    2017-11-14 07:12

        In publishing, it pays to have good timing. Just ask Cass Sunstein, the US legal scholar and prolific author. Some time ago, he decided to write a tome about impeachment in America. By chance, his Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide was published on the very day that scandals around President Trump intensified.        在出版业,把握良机能带来巨大收益。问问美国法律学者和多产作者卡斯•森斯坦(Cass Sunstein)就明白了。前段时间,他决定写一部有关美国的弹劾的巨著。他的《弹劾:公民指南》(Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide)恰巧在围绕着总统唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)的丑闻加剧的那一天出版。
        More specifically, a few weeks ago, Robert Mueller, the former FBI boss who is investigating links between Trump’s team and Russia, indicted several key figures in Trump’s election campaign, including his former campaign manager, the lobbyist Paul Manafort.        具体而言,几周前,正在调查特朗普团队与俄罗斯关联的联邦调查局(FBI)前局长罗伯特•米勒(Robert Mueller)起诉了特朗普竞选团队中的几个关键人物,包括特朗普前竞选经理、游说人士保罗•马纳福特(Paul Manafort)。
        More sealed indictments against unnamed individuals are now sitting in the courthouse. As a result, the “i” word is being tossed around with fervour by Trump’s opponents; political betting sites such as Predict It put the chances of Trump being removed from office early at 38 per cent.        更多密封起诉书现在就躺在法院大楼之中,起诉对象是哪些人不得而知。因此,特朗普的反对者正在热切地讨论那个“i”开头的词(指弹劾(impeachment)——译者注);“Predict It”等政治博彩网站估测特朗普提前下台的几率为38%。
        This is remarkable. But before anybody on the Democratic side gets too excited, they should take a look at Sunstein’s book. He does not claim to be commenting on Trump — the book does not even mention the president by name. But what it does do is explain the historical origins of the impeachment concept, and offer a checklist as to when the principle might be applied.        这个数字很惊人。但民主党阵营别高兴得太早——他们应该先看看森斯坦的书。森斯坦并没有说这本书是在评论特朗普——书中甚至没有提到这位总统的名字。但这本书的确解释了弹劾这个概念的历史渊源,并列出了在哪些情况下可能将弹劾原则付诸实施。
        As Sunstein explains, the concept initially arose to solve a contradiction. Back in the late 18th century, the founding fathers wanted strong, unified leadership; however, they also wanted to prevent the kind of tyranny they had experienced under the British king. To square this circle, they gave considerable powers to the president, but also stipulated that a president could (and should) be removed if there was evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanours”.        森斯坦解释道,弹劾这个概念最初是为了解决一个矛盾。在18世纪末期,美国国父们希望建立强大和统一的领导;然而,他们也希望预防他们在英国国王统治下经历过的那种暴政。为了解决这个终极难题,他们赋予总统相当大的权力,但又规定如果有证据表明总统犯下“重罪和轻罪”,总统可以(且应该)被免职。
        However, the founding fathers did not define “high crimes and misdemeanours” particularly clearly. And if you want to turn the term into law, you face the same kind of intellectual battle that plagues the Christian church over interpreting the Bible — namely, should the constitution be taken at face value, with every letter of 18th-century precepts applied to 21st-century life? Or should it be seen as a “living document” that needs to be adapted to the modern world? Unsurprisingly, the views of modern legal scholars have diverged. The late Justice Thurgood Marshall fell into the living document camp. Antonin Scalia, a member of the Supreme Court until his death last year, believed that a constitution only works if it is taken literally.        然而,国父们并没有特别清楚地定义“重罪和轻罪”。如果你想把这个词写入法律,你将面临着在诠释《圣经》这个问题上困扰基督教的那种思想之争,即:是应该按照宪法的字面含义来理解它、原原本本地把18世纪的条文应用到21世纪的生活之中,还是应该把宪法当做一份“活的文件”、需要适应现代世界作出相应调整?毫不奇怪,对于这个问题,现代法律学者无法形成统一的观点。已故的大法官瑟古德•马歇尔(Thurgood Marshall)是“活文件”一派。去年去世的最高法院法官安东宁•斯卡利亚(Antonin Scalia)生前一直认为,只有从字面上理解宪法,它才能发挥作用。
        Of course, some cases are clear-cut: as Sunstein explains, a president cannot be impeached if he (or she) has “merely” evaded taxes, pursued wildly unpopular policies, engaged in sexual scandal or embarked on wars. Conversely, they can be impeached if they engage in high treason, accept bribes in office, or use the security apparatus to discredit their opponents and cover up the evidence. “Efforts to engage the CIA to prevent disclosure of wrongdoing by the President’s campaign committee is unquestionably a misdemeanour in the constitutional sense,” writes Sunstein. This latter point is particularly important, since this was the “misdemeanour” that led to Richard Nixon being impeached after the Watergate scandals. But the key point is that committing a crime is not necessarily enough to justify impeachment — and not everything that would spark impeachment is illegal.        当然,有些情况非常明确:正如森斯坦解释的,美国总统不能“仅仅”因为逃税、推行普遍不受欢迎的政策、牵涉性丑闻或者发动战争而受到弹劾。相反,如果犯下严重的叛国罪、收受贿赂或者利用安全机构诋毁对手并掩藏证据,他们可以受到弹劾。森斯坦写道:“从宪法的角度看,试图动用中情局(CIA)来阻止总统竞选委员会的不当行为被披露,无疑是一种轻罪。”后一点尤为重要,因为正是这种“轻罪”导致理查德•尼克松(Richard Nixon)在水门事件后被弹劾。但关键是,犯罪并不足以证明弹劾的正当性——而且并非所有可以引发弹劾的行为都是非法的。
        However, as Sunstein observes, this still leaves a huge “grey area” where it is not entirely clear whether an activity is impeachable or not. This is not necessarily bad. The whole point about the impeachment principle is that it is so difficult to apply that it will not be widely used — yet sufficiently broad in its scope that it can have a deterrent effect. “We, the people, can out a president if we wish, but we have to run the gauntlet,” Sunstein notes.        然而,正如森斯坦所言,这仍留下了一个巨大的“灰色地带”,在这里,一项行为是否足以导致弹劾并不完全清楚。这并不一定是坏事。弹劾原则的全部意义就在于,它实施起来如此困难,以至于不会被广泛使用——但其涵盖的范围又足够广,因此可以起到威慑作用。森斯坦指出:“如果我们——也就是人民——想的话,我们可以把一位总统轰下台,但这个过程要费尽艰难险阻。”
        The problem with this “grey area” is that there is scope for politicisation in terms of how impeachment is applied, and this creates two dangers. One is that “a combination of extreme partisanship, rapid spread of false information and various behaviour biases” will spark unjustified efforts to impeach a president. The other is that party loyalties overwhelm any sense of constitutional law and Congress refuses to impeach a president when it is actually justified. As Sunstein observes, “History suggests that Republicans will be exceedingly reluctant to abandon a Republican president, and Democrats are no different. Conviction is essentially impossible unless the country is nearly unified against its leader.”        这个“灰色地带”的问题在于,弹劾如何运用有可能受到政治因素影响,这造成了两大危险。一是,“极端的党派斗争、虚假信息的快速传播和各种行为偏误的结合”将引发对总统的不正当弹劾。二是,对政党的忠诚导致宪法条文被完全无视,国会拒绝对总统的正当弹劾。正如森斯坦所言,“历史表明,共和党极不情愿放弃共和党总统,而民主党也不例外。除非这个国家几乎一致反对这位总统,否则说服国会基本上不可能。”
        Where does this leave Trump? Right now, nobody knows. Mueller has not produced any evidence of presidential wrongdoing to date and may never do so; meanwhile, many Trump supporters insist that the whole saga is simply fake news, driven by political partisanship. But if evidence of wrongdoing does emerge, Democrats will almost certainly try to activate that “i” word. Either way, things are likely to get messy — and be overwhelmed by precisely the type of political partisanship that Sunstein worries about. Now, more than ever, cool heads are needed to safeguard the US Republic: thank goodness for this book — and its handy impeachment checklist.        那么就特朗普而言,情况如何?目前没有人知道。米勒迄今没有拿出任何证明总统有不当行为的证据,或许永远也拿不出;与此同时,特朗普的许多支持者坚信,整个事件只是由党派斗争驱动的假新闻。但如果不当行为的证据真的出现了,民主党几乎肯定会设法启动弹劾。不管怎样,局势很可能会变得难看,会恰恰被森斯坦所担心的那种党派斗争所主导。如今比以往任何时候都更需要冷静的头脑来保卫美国共和国:谢天谢地,我们有了这本书和书中列出的有用的弹劾适用场景清单。

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