Trump Confronts the Prospect of a ‘Nonstop Political War’ for Survival
WASHINGTON — So it has come to this: The president of the United States was asked over the weekend whether he is a Russian agent. And he refused to directly answer.
The question, which came from a friendly interviewer, not one of the “fake media” journalists he disparages, was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he declared. But it is a question that has hung over his presidency now for two years.
If the now 23-day government shutdown standoff between Trump and Congress has seemed ugly, it may eventually seem tame by comparison with what is to come. The border wall fight is just the preliminary skirmish in this new era of divided government. The real battle has yet to begin.
With Democrats now in charge of the House, the special counsel believed to be wrapping up his investigation, news media outlets competing for scoops and the first articles of impeachment already filed, Trump faces the prospect of an all-out political war for survival that may make the still-unresolved partial government shutdown pale by comparison.
The past few days have offered plenty of foreshadowing. The newly empowered Democrats summoned the president’s longtime personal lawyer to testify after he implicated Trump in an illegal scheme to arrange hush payments before the 2016 election for women who claimed to have had affairs with him. Legal papers disclosed that Trump’s onetime campaign chairman shared polling data with an associate tied by prosecutors to Russian intelligence.
New reports over the weekend added to the sense of siege at the White House. The New York Times reported that after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey in 2017, the bureau opened an investigation into whether the president was working for the Russians. And The Washington Post reported that Trump has gone out of his way as president to hide the details of his discussions with President Vladimir Putin of Russia even from members of his own administration.
周末出来的一些报道，增加了白宫深陷困顿的感觉。据《纽约时报》报道，特朗普于2017年将FBI局长詹姆斯·科米(James B. Comey)解职之后，该局开始调查总统是否为俄罗斯人工作。《华盛顿邮报》报道，特朗普身为总统，却刻意隐瞒与俄罗斯总统普京谈话的细节，甚至对政府成员也是如此。
What all this adds up to remains unclear. Whether it will lead to a full-blown impeachment inquiry in the House has yet to be decided. But it underscores the chance that with candidates already lining up to take him on in 2020, Washington will spend the months to come debating the future of Trump’s presidency and the direction of the country.
“The reality,” said Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist and former special assistant to Trump, is “that the next two years are going to be nonstop political war.”
The White House has begun recruiting soldiers. The new White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, has hired 17 new lawyers, according to The Post, as he prepares for a barrage of subpoenas from House Democratic committee chairmen.
Democrats, for their part, say they are out for accountability, not blood, intent on forcing a president who went largely unchecked by a Republican Congress during his first two years in office to come clean on the many scandals that have erupted involving his business, taxes, campaign and administration.
They plan to get started in the coming days. On Tuesday, they will grill former Attorney General William P. Barr, who has been nominated by Trump to assume his old office again, about his approach to special counsel Robert Mueller. Barr wrote a private memo last year criticizing Mueller’s investigation, and Democrats will use his confirmation hearings to press him on whether the special counsel will be allowed to finish his work and report it to Congress.
他们计划在未来几天开始行动。周二，他们将盘问被特朗普提名再度上任的前司法部长威廉·P·巴尔(William P. Barr)，希望他说明将对特别检察官罗伯特·穆勒(Robert Mueller)一事如何处理。巴尔去年写了一份私人备忘录，批评穆勒的调查。民主党人将利用巴尔的提名确认听证会，在是否允许特别检察官完成工作并向国会报告一事上，向他施加压力。
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader, also plans to force a vote in the Senate this week on the Trump administration’s plans to lift sanctions on the companies of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Putin’s government, if he reduces his ownership stakes. Democrats plan to use the issue to argue that Trump has been soft on Russia.
民主党少数党领袖、纽约州参议员查克·舒默(Chuck Schumer)计划在本周迫使参议院就特朗普政府取消对俄罗斯寡头奥列格·杰里帕斯卡(Oleg Deripaska)公司制裁的计划进行投票，杰里帕斯卡与普京政府关系密切，特朗普政府计划如果他减少持股，就取消对该公司的制裁。民主党人意图利用这个问题来证明特朗普对俄罗斯的态度是软弱的。
Even committees that are not usually in the investigation business are jumping into the fray. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The New Yorker last week that he was eliminating the subcommittee on terrorism in favor of a subcommittee aimed at investigating Trump’s foreign policy.
就连通常不参与调查事务的委员会也加入了争论。众议院外交事务委员会(House Foreign Affairs Committee)新任主席，纽约州民主党众议员埃利奥特·L·恩格尔(Eliot L. Engel)上周告诉《纽约客》(New Yorker)，他准备取消反恐小组委员会，用一个旨在调查特朗普外交政策的小组委员会取而代之。
Lost in all this may be any chance of bipartisan policymaking. At stake in the current fight is just $5.7 billion for Trump’s promised border wall, roughly one-eighth of 1 percent of the total federal budget. If one-eighth of 1 percent of the total budget can prompt the longest government shutdown in American history, then the potential for further clashes over the remaining 99.87 percent seems considerable. On issues like health care, taxes, climate change, guns and national security, the two sides start this era of divided government far apart.
“That’s the flashing yellow light here,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, a former top White House aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. “If you can’t do Government 101, what makes you think you’re going to do Advanced Placement Government like finding the money for an infrastructure bill?”
“这是闪烁的黄灯，”曾在比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)和贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)总统时代担任白宫助理的芝加哥市长拉姆·伊曼纽尔(Rahm Emanuel)说。“如果政府治理入门课程你都过不了，你凭什么觉得自己可以选进阶选修课程，比如为基础设施法案筹集资金?”
Negotiations have broken down. While Trump had gambled that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would back down, she has made clear that she has no interest in compromise, and left town over the weekend. She and Schumer have insisted that Trump reopen the government while negotiations over a border wall proceed, which the president has refused to do. Trump walked out of their talks last week after he asked Pelosi if she would support his wall if he reopened government and she said no.
“It’s all about their own sense of strength,” said John Feehery, a former senior House Republican aide. “Pelosi wants to be validated. She wants to be seen as a strong leader. Trump feels like he has to govern through strength. This is strength versus strength. Unfortunately, the people in the middle are the government workers who can’t afford to lose a paycheck.”
Instead of talks to end the shutdown, the president spent at least part of his weekend defending himself against the suspicions about his affinity for Putin. He insisted that he has actually been tougher on Russia than his predecessors and that the FBI was led by “losers that tried to do a number on your President.”
He picked up the telephone on Saturday night to call into the Fox News show hosted by Jeanine Pirro, who participated in a campaign rally with him last fall. She asked him about the FBI investigation reported by The Times with a tone of scorn.
周六晚上，他给福克斯新闻(Fox News)节目打了个电话，节目主持人是去年秋天参加过他的竞选集会的珍妮·皮罗(Jeanine Pirro)。她带着轻蔑的语气问起他《纽约时报》报道的FBI调查一事。
“I’m going to ask you, are you now or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” Pirro asked.
“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he answered. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written. And if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing.”
She then cited the Post article about his efforts to conceal details of his private meetings with Putin. “We had a great conversation,” he said. “We were talking about Israel and securing Israel and lots of other things, and it was a great conversation. I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.”
Pirro expressed sympathy for the battles he was waging.
“You’ve got such fight in you, it’s unbelievable,” she said.
“Well,” he answered, “I guess I have good genes.”