2017-7-14 10:00


July 14, 2017
Campaign Opposition Research Is Standard. But Not ‘Oppo’ From Hostile Nations.


Donald Trump Jr.'s 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who promised damaging information via the Russian government has again engulfed President Donald Trump in questions about whether his campaign colluded with Moscow.

小唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump Jr)曾于2016年会见一名与克里姆林宫有关联的律师,后者承诺提供通过俄罗斯政府得来的黑材料,这让唐纳德·特朗普总统再次遭受如潮的质疑:他的团队是否曾与莫斯科串谋?

The younger Trump and his allies have argued that pursuing material that could prove useful against a political opponent is standard practice in campaigns. But while opposition research is part of modern presidential campaigns, it normally does not come from representatives of a hostile foreign power.


Here is how the peddling of opposition research — or oppo, as political professionals and reporters call it — typically works.


How did that get here?


One of President Bill Clinton’s favorite Arkansas political sayings was, “If you see a turtle on a fence post, it didn’t get there by accident.“

比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)总统很喜欢的阿肯色州政治格言说,“如果你看到栅栏柱上有一只乌龟,那它肯定不是偶然到了那里。“

Many campaign accusations and revelatory news stories about a candidate or elected official are the fruits of what is euphemistically called the research division of campaigns and political parties, where low-profile aides search for dirt.


“The crackpots get routed to research,“ said Tracy Sefl, a veteran Democratic practitioner of the dark arts of oppo.

“狂想者走上研究之路,“民主党阵营中的oppo黑魔法资深践行者特蕾西·塞夫(Tracy Sefl)说。

Much of the job is fielding too-good-to-be-true (or simply unverifiable) charges via furtive phone calls, manila envelopes and untraceable email accounts. Working in the Democratic National Committee’s research department in the 2004 campaign, Sefl recalled meeting a woman with a story to tell about President George W. Bush.

很大一部分工作是,借助鬼鬼祟祟的电话、牛皮纸信封和无法被追踪到的电子邮件账号,抛出那些完美到完全不真实(或者干脆无法核实)的指控。在2004年总统选举期间任职于民主党全国委员会(Democratic National Committee)研究部门的塞夫,回忆了自己与一个女人见面的情形,后者想要讲述关于乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)总统的故事。

“She said she worked as a dancer and accused President Bush of doing very specific drug-related activities on her,“ Sefl said.


The accuser offered no proof, and the Democrats could do little but share the tale with one another.


Where does it come from?


As any term-paper writer knows, material is drawn from two sources: primary and secondary. The first of these include government documents, such as legal filings and financial disclosures. Remember accounts of the car elevator that Mitt Romney was building inside his oceanside home in California? Those came from renovation plans submitted to the city of San Diego, which were dug up by President Barack Obama’s campaign.

正如任何学期论文作者都知道的,材料有两个来源:一手的和二手的。一手来源包括政府文件,比如法律文件和财务资料。还记得关于米特·罗姆尼(Mitt Romney)在其加利福尼亚海滨寓所内修建的那部汽车升降机的描述吗?那些信息就来自被提交给圣迭戈市的改建计划,贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)的竞选团队将其挖了出来。

Or how about the $400 that John Edwards spent on a haircut? That too was exhumed by the Obama campaign from a campaign finance report.

又或者你记得约翰·爱德华兹(John Edwards)剪头发花掉的400美元?那也是奥巴马的竞选团队从一份竞选活动财务报表中挖出来的。

And that story five days before the 2000 election on George W. Bush driving under the influence in Maine back in 1976? Chris Lehane, a former aide for Al Gore and a native of Maine, does not admit to the paternity of that leak, but he does not deny it, either.

还有2000年大选日五天前曝出的乔治·W·布什于1976年在缅因州醉驾的故事?曾给阿尔·戈尔(Al Gore)当过助手的缅因州当地人克里斯·勒汉(Chris Lehane),没有承认自己和这一消息的传出有密切关系,但也没否认。

“I told people when asking about the issue only that I was responsible for the popular vote and left the Electoral College for others,“ he cheekily said in 2010 after Bush strategist Karl Rove published a memoir that accused him of being the man behind the story.

“当被问及此事时,我只是告诉人们我负责普选,把选举团(Electoral College)留给别人去管,“2010年,他在布什的策略师卡尔·罗夫(Karl Rove)出版回忆录指责他是这条消息的幕后黑手之后老着脸皮说道。

And those unflattering stories about the Clinton Foundation in this past campaign? Yes, some of them originated with Republican researchers.

最近这次总统选举期间关于克林顿基金会(Clinton Foundation)的负面报道?没错,其中一些消息源自共和党研究员。

In some cases, the provenance of the leaks remains murky. Obama, for example, might never have been elected to the Senate in 2004 were it not for damaging revelations about his rivals and their divorces.


Secondary source opposition research largely consists of votes-and-quotes — a political figure’s policy positions and past comments that have appeared in the media. The material may lack the shock effect of original material, but it can be just as memorable.


Which brings us back to Romney — and his Irish setter, Seamus. The Romney family, as many readers of a certain New York Times columnist will recall, stowed Seamus on the roof of their car during a family vacation. This anecdote was but one element in a biographical series that The Boston Globe ran on Romney in 2007, when he first sought the White House. But it found new life when Romney became the Republican nominee in 2012.

这让我们想起了罗姆尼——以及他的爱尔兰塞特犬谢默斯(Seamus)。《纽约时报》一位专栏作家的很多读者应该还记得,罗姆尼一家一次外出度假期间,把谢默斯放在车顶上。这一插曲只不过是波士顿环球报(Boston Globe)2007年关于罗姆尼的传记性系列报道中的内容,当时他第一次加入总统选举。但到了2012年,罗姆尼成为共和党提名的总统候选人的时候,它获得了新生。

It was the sort of story that, by the standards of an earlier political era, counted as peculiar behavior.


But has anything like this happened before?


There is only one known historical parallel to the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Russians, and it involves Richard M. Nixon. Running for president in 1968, Nixon told H.R. Haldeman, his eventual White House chief of staff, to “monkey wrench“ peace talks in Vietnam in order to scuttle any deal that would have handed Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee, a political victory in the closing days of the election.

就目前所知,历史上只有一件事能和特朗普竞选团队与俄罗斯人的接触相提并论,牵涉其中的是理查德·M·尼克松(Richard M. Nixon)。尼克松在1968年竞选总统期间,让最终成为他的白宫幕僚长的H·R·霍尔德曼(H. R. Haldeman)去给越南的和平会谈“捣乱“,以防止有任何协议出炉,在大选日即将到来之际为民主党提名的总统候选人休伯特·汉弗莱(Hubert Humphrey)奉上一场政治胜利。

Nixon, a former senator and vice president, had a relationship with the South Vietnamese government. Earlier in the year, he had met with the country’s ambassador and brought along Anna Chennault, a prominent Chinese-American Republican. As author John A. Farrell writes in his new book, “Richard Nixon: The Life,“ which reports the “monkey wrench“ instructions, the call between Nixon and Haldeman took place on Oct. 22, 1968, and Haldeman dutifully jotted down what he was told.

身为前参议员和副总统的尼克松和南越政府有往来。那一年早些时候,他会见过南越大使,还把知名华裔美籍共和党人陈香梅(Anna Chennault)带在身边。正如约翰·A·法雷尔(John A. Farrell)在其披露“捣乱“指令的新书《理查德·尼克松:人生》(Richard Nixon: The Life)中所写,尼克松和霍尔德曼之间的通话发生在1968年10月22日,霍尔德曼忠实记录下了这一指令。

A group of aides to Ronald Reagan did meet in the fall of 1980 with an individual claiming to be an emissary from the Iranian government, but that person’s legitimacy was never determined.

罗纳德·里根(Ronald Reagan)的一群助手的确在1980年秋天会见了一个自称是伊朗政府使者的人,但此人的真正身份从未得到确认。

Moscow has, however, tried to meddle in previous U.S. elections. Historian Michael R. Beschloss recounts in “The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963,“ an account of the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Kennedy presidency, that the Soviet ambassador in Washington secretly reached out to both John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, another Democratic presidential hopeful, during the 1960 campaign. The ambassador was rebuffed by both candidates.

不过,莫斯科总是设法干预美国以往的选举。历史学家迈克尔·贝施洛斯(Michael Beschloss)在讲述肯尼迪任内美苏关系的著作《危机岁月:肯尼迪和赫鲁晓夫, 1960-1963》(The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963)中回忆,1960年总统选举期间,苏联驻华盛顿大使曾秘密联络约翰·F·肯尼迪(John F. Kennedy)以及另一位有望当选总统的民主党候选人。两位候选人都拒绝了苏联大使。