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经济学人下载:美国总统特朗普可以凌驾于法律之上吗?(2)

Source: Economist    2018-09-14  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

Mr Cohen says Mr Trump asked him to make hush-money payments—
科恩表示,特朗普要求他支付保密款项——

something that is not illegal for ordinary citizens,
这对普通公民来说并不违法,

but counts as an undeclared donation when done on behalf of a political candidate, as Mr Trump was at the time.
但在代表一位政治候选人捐款时,就算是一笔未申报的捐款,特朗普时值总统候选人。

So what?
那又怎样?

After all, America treats breaches of campaign-finance law much more like speeding tickets than burglary:
毕竟,美国对待违反竞选资金法更像是对待超速罚单,而不是入室行窃:

they are often the result of filling in a form wrongly, or incorrectly accounting for campaign spending.
认为违反竞选资金法通常是错误填写表格的结果,或者是竞选经费计算错误。

There are good reasons for this indulgent approach.
这种放纵的做法有很好的理由。

When voters elect someone who has bent the rules, it sets up a conflict between the courts and the electorate that is hard to resolve cleanly.
当选民投票给一个违反规则的人时,就会在法院和选民之间引发一场难以干净利落解决的冲突。

Mr Trump does not stand accused of getting his paperwork wrong, however, but of paying bribes to scotch a damaging story.
特朗普不应因文书工作有误而被谴责,而应因为行贿抹杀有破坏性的事件被谴责。

That is a far more serious offence,
这是一个严重得多的罪行,

and one that was enough to end the career of John Edwards, an aspirant Democratic presidential candidate, when he was caught doing something similar in 2008.
严重到足以终结约翰·爱德华兹的政治生涯,这位野心勃勃的民主党总统候选人,2008年做了类似的事情。

There is no way of knowing if Mr Trump would still have won had the story come out.
如果特朗普的事情被曝光,我们无从知晓他是否仍会赢。

Even so, the possibility that he might not have done raises questions about his legitimacy, not just his observance of campaign-finance laws.
即便如此,他可能并没有这么做,但仅是可能性也引发了对特朗普合法性的质疑,不仅仅是遵守竞选资金法。

What of the convention, which has been in place since the Nixon era, that the Justice Department will not indict a sitting president?
自从尼克松时代以来就存在的惯例是,司法部不会起诉在任总统。

Again, there are good reasons for this.
同样,这是有充分理由的。

As with breaches of campaign-finance law, such an indictment would set up a conflict between the bureaucracy and the president’s democratic mandate that has no happy ending.
就像违反竞选资金法一样,这样的起诉将在官僚机构和总统的民主授权之间引发一场两败俱伤的冲突。

The convention would doubtless be void if there were credible evidence that a sitting president had, say, committed murder.
如果有可信的证据表明在任总统,比如说,犯了谋杀罪,那么该惯例毫无疑问是无效的。

But the payment of hush money to avoid an inconvenient story about an extramarital affair falls a long way short of that.
但是,为了避免发生婚外情而支付的封口费与此相去甚远。

The authors of the constitution wanted to allow the president to get on with his job without unnecessary distractions.
美国的宪法起草者们想让总统在没有不必要干扰的情况下工作。

But, fresh from a war against King George III, they were very clear that the presidency should not be an elected monarchy.
但是,刚经历过和英国国王乔治三世的战争,他们非常清楚总统不应是民选的君主政体。

If a president does it, that does not make it legal.
如果总统那样做,就是不合法的。

The constitutional problem that America is heading towards is that the Justice Department’s protocol not to prosecute sitting presidents dates from another age, when a president could be expected to resign with a modicum of honour before any charges were drawn up, as Nixon did.
美国正面临的宪法问题是,司法部协议不起诉在任总统,这可追溯到另一个时代,在起草任何改变前,总统都被期望带着一点荣誉退位,正如尼克松所做的那样。

That norm no longer applies.
这一标准不再适用。

The unwritten convention now says in effect that, if his skin is thick enough, a president is indeed above the law.
现在生效的不成文的惯例是,只要脸皮够厚,总统确实可以凌驾于法律之上。


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