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Impeachment 101: Why, When, and How the President Can Be Removed from Office

Impeachment it turns out was a very central part of the Constitution of the United States
就是说 它不显眼 人们也不了解它
meaning it’s obscure, people don’t know about it,
但对于 “美国人民决定宪法”
but it probably was necessary for the Constitution
这点来讲 却很有必要
actually to be ratified by the American people.
You can see the impeachment clause,
and I’m going to explain its content in a moment,
但你明白 就反抗拥有凌驾于“我们 人民”
but you can see it as part of the American Revolution itself
in the sense that the revolt against a king
如果我们不具备 通过它处置
who was a leader who had authority over ‘We the People’ was incomplete
if we didn’t have a mechanism by which we could get rid of our leaders,
including the president,
which was a way of ensuring we didn’t have anything like a monarchy.
Now the way impeachment worked is that in the early American colonies
before America was America
we started impeaching people who were following orders from the king.
也就是说 滥用职权会被立法议会传唤
And what that meant was that an abusive authority would be called out by some legislative assembly
最初 针对滥用职权的人只会进行一次投票表决
and in the initial phase what would happen would be there would just be a vote that the
之后 若事情没得到解决 这个人就被带到英国
person had abused authority and then if the thing fell to completion, and this goes back
to England, there would be a trial.
审判中 此人会被依弹劾的罪责定罪
And in the trial the person would be convicted of the offense for which impeachment was had
定罪的话 这个人就会被免职
and if convicted the person would be removed from office.
把它引入美国的政体 其在革命及宪法颁布后
So to bring this back to the American structure as it developed after the Revolution and after
得到发展 这被认为是 在费城讨论宪法时
the Constitution came into place, and this was thought through with such care in Philadelphia
所完成的 其理念就是:如果犯重罪或轻罪
when the Constitution was debated, the idea was that if there is a high crime and misdemeanor,
(我们可以讨论一下那是什么意思) 或是叛国及受贿的话
and we can talk a bit about what that means, or if there’s treason or bribery then the
众议院可以凭多数票决 弹劾总统 副总统
House of Representatives by majority vote can impeach the President, the Vice President,
最高法院法官 内阁成员
Supreme Court justices, members of the cabinet.
也就是说 对这个做了很坏很坏的事情的人
And what that means is there’s a kind of official judgment that the person has done
作出官方的判断 之后 审理程序移交参议院
something very, very bad and after that the proceeding moves to the Senate, which is acting
(参议院)扮演法院的角色 决定是否定罪 定罪则意味着将此人免职
like a court and which decides whether to convict, which means to remove the person from office.
The House makes the impeachment vote by a majority vote.
That doesn’t mean anyone has to leave office.
(弹劾)提交到参议院 如果当场得到2/3多数票 宣布其有罪
It then goes to the Senate, which if it votes by a 2/3 majority to convict on the ground
那么我们说 总统遭弹劾了 然后总统其人
on which the let’s say President was impeached then the person is, as they say about baseballs
如人们说的 像打棒球一样……出局了 是的
that are hit very hard… the President is gone. Yes.
因为“重罪和轻罪”这种说法听起来像某种十恶不赦的罪 重大犯罪
Because the word ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ seems to mean kind of felonies,high crimes and misdemeanors,
而轻罪 当下的普通读者会想:“哦 犯罪了吗?”
the normal current reader would think oh is there a crime?
追溯到18世纪 事实上这比在自治政府之下
If you go back to the 18th century it’s actually a lot more inspiring than that and
kind of fitting with a system that’s committed to self-government.
假设某种犯罪 如不遵守交通规则 入店行窃或偷逃个税
So if there’s a crime, let’s call it jaywalking or shoplifting or not paying your income taxes,
that’s not a high crime or misdemeanor in the constitutional sense.
“重罪和轻罪”是指滥用职权 但入店行窃
What is meant by high crime and misdemeanor is an abuse of official authority and shoplifting
or income tax evasion that’s a crime, it’s not an abuse of official authority.
如果美国总统 我们假设:“我决定赦免所有
If the President of the United States, let’s suppose, decides I’m going to pardon every
射杀非裔黑人的白人警察” 这本身不像是犯罪
police officer who shot an African-American, that’s not itself likely to be a crime.
总统具有赦免权 但这肯定是应该被弹劾的过错
The President has the pardon power, but that is definitely an impeachable offense.
事实上 詹姆斯•麦迪逊谈及赦免权的滥用 是把它当作应被弹劾的过错的
In fact James Madison spoke of abuse of the pardon power as an impeachable offense.
如果美国总统决定:“未来六个月 我打算去巴黎度假
If the President of the United States decides I’m going to go on vacation in Paris for
因为那儿太美了” 这当然不是犯罪
the next six months because it’s really beautiful, that’s certainly not a crime,
但却是应遭弹劾的过错 是对行政职权的过分忽视
but it’s an impeachable offense that’s an egregious neglect of the authority of the office.
行政职权的滥用如果太过分 赦免权就是个例子
So abuse of the authority of the office if it’s egregious, pardon power for example
would be one, if the president starts invading civil liberties in a terrible way by locking
在机场及边界依照安全措施行疯狂之举 以这种可怕的方式侵犯公民自由
people up for insufficient reason, by going crazy in terms of security measures at airports
and borders — and by going crazy I’m using that as kind of a legal term of art — really
确实超越了合理的界限 这都不是犯罪 而是滥用职权
exceeding the bounds of the reasonable, that is not a crime but that is an abuse of authority
瞧 我们刚好符合弹劾条款的规定 我认为最重要的是
and there we’re right back in the impeachment clause, which is I think first and foremost
一条保护我们权利和自由的途径 一条将违反条款之人
a way of preserving our rights and liberties and a way of calling out an authority who
has invaded them.
现在想想 美国革命是为什么而战
Think now about what the American Revolution was fought for.
上个月 我花了很多时间在18世纪的历史上 那时的人们
I’ve spent a lot of last months in the 18th century and the people back then were on the
在弹劾问题及总统权力的问题上 表现非常出色
impeachment issues and presidential authority issues they were off the charts good.
在弗吉尼亚举行的 有关我们是否应批准联邦宪法的讨论会上 一位饱学之士说到
In the debate in Virginia on whether we should ratify the Constitution, one really learned person said
we can not ratify the constitution
And the reason is the pardon power.”
接着 怀疑论者推波助澜:总统有权参与某些事确实是灾难性的
And it was urged by the skeptic, the President could participate in something really sinister
以他的某顾问为例 当时该顾问遇到点法律上的麻烦 然后总统
with one of his advisers, then his advisor is in legal trouble and then the President
有权原谅此人的违法及贪腐行为 (赦免权)就是从这个总统开始的
can pardon the person for engaging in illegal or corrupt activity that the President initiated.
How can we allow a constitution that has that in it?
这是个合理的问题 以很有针对性的陈述 作为拒绝宪法的理由
That’s a fair question and it was stated with great precision as an objection to the constitution
as I recall by someone who had actually signed the Declaration of Independence
and I know that person was at the Constitutional Convention and refused to embrace it.
James Madison very quietly responded, and he said, “I think the gentleman has overlooked something”
当赌注非常高 关乎我们能否拥有一部宪法的时候
isn’t that a sweet way of responding to someone when the stakes are
super high whether we’re going to have a Constitution.
“The gentleman has overlook something,” and then Madison explained, “If the President
uses the pardon power to shelter someone who’s done something terrible,
there’s something available in the Constitution, impeachment.”
事实上 麦迪逊给了此人一个更好的说法
And Madison actually did his interlocutor one better,
该谈话者当时说“如果总统提议一些很糟的事 把它加进来
the interlocutor was saying,”if the President advises something terrible and participates in it
然后赦免此人 那岂不是很可怕?”
and then pardons the person ,isn’t that awful?”
麦迪逊说“没错 很可怕 而且也应被弹劾”但他的言辞看上去
Madison said, “Yes that’s awful and that’s impeachable,” but Madison’s words seemed
to go beyond that to say if you pardon someone who’s done something terrible,
one of your own people, that’s itself a legitimate grounds for impeachment,
which suggested that abuse of the pardon power,
in the words of James Madison”that’s an impeachable offense.”
考虑到对宪法意义的尊重 与詹姆斯•麦迪逊辩论是有风险的
And with respect to the meaning of the Constitution, it is hazardous to argue with James Madison.
弹劾机制的魅力在于 它与我们拥有民主制而非君主制
The beauty of the impeachment mechanism is its connection with the principle
这一原则相结合 也就是说 它在“我们 人民”掌握之中
that we have a republic and not a monarchy, which means it puts ‘We the People’ in charge.
也即 在弹劾机制的职权范围内
That means that in vocation of the impeachment mechanism,
不论民主党总统还是共和党总统 都的确取决于“我们 人民”
whether it’s a democratic president or a Republican President, really depends on ‘We the People’.
所以 如果你记得某些例子
So if you think of examples there was some interest
在布什和奥巴马总统执政时期 有些关于控告他们的趣事
under president Bush and president Obama some interest in impeaching them.
但我想 多亏了“我们 人民” 即便不喜欢他们中的任一个
But I think thank goodness we the people, even if we didn’t like either of those presidents,
didn’t think there was an impeachable offense.
与尼克松总统时期相比 我相信克林顿总统时期很不幸
Under President Nixon, by contrast, and I believe very unfortunately under President Clinton
因为他没有承担应被弹劾的过错 但在他们两位执政时期
because he didn’t commit an impeachable offense, but under both of them there was
a public demand for getting rid of them on the ground that President Nixon had abused
his presidential authority to cover up crimes and also had himself use presidential authority
to invade civil rights and civil liberties.
那使得人民 无论其政治立场 都争先恐后
That got people, whatever their political affiliation, sufficiently charged up that
they either were willing to go along with those members of the House of Representatives
尼克松的议员们 要么为之摇旗呐喊
who wanted to impeach Nixon, or they fueled that.
克林顿事件中 有一种说法:作伪证和妨碍司法
In the Clinton case there was a thought, and again perjury and obstruction of justice,
就是对克林顿总统的控告 它们不是什么好东西
which were the charges against President Clinton, there’s nothing good about them they’re very bad,
它们很糟 但不属于宪法规定的 其被弹劾的事件范围
but they weren’t in his case impeachable offenses under the Constitution.
尽管如此 公众仍旧热情高涨
Nonetheless people were charged up.
A lot of people were charged up.
所以 无论总统是民主党还是共和党 无论是
So whether the President is a Democrat or a Republican, whether it’s
president Trump or in the future some left-of-center President,
if people think that there’s something that really beyond the pale
不是经宪法实践 而是在此过程中以某种口头传诵的方式获取
and that’s not the constitutional test but a kind of colloquial way of getting at the constitutional test,
beyond the pale of legitimate uses of authority
那么 我们 合众国人民说了算
then we the people we’re the boss.
所以 对于谁说了算的问题
So the question who’s the boss?
宪法前三个单词已经表明: 我们 人民还有弹劾
The first three words of the Constitution say it, we the people and the impeachment
clause kind of makes that real