My Chance to Interview Trump Was Nearly Derailed by a Tweet
WASHINGTON — The day started early. Four of us from the Washington bureau were part of a team set to interview President-elect Donald J. Trump over lunch at The New York Times headquarters in Manhattan. Our first step? Get to New York.
华盛顿——那一天，我早早起床。来自华盛顿分社的我们四个人是一个团队的成员，要在午餐期间采访候任总统唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)。采访地点定在位于曼哈顿的《纽约时报》总部。我们的第一步？当然是去纽约了。
Our plan was easy: Take Amtrak’s 8 a.m. Acela, the high speed train from D.C. to New York Penn Station, and walk eight blocks up 8th Avenue to the Times building. The train was scheduled to arrive shortly before 11 a.m., well ahead of the 1 p.m. start to the luncheon interview. We planned to strategize on the train about potential questions and follow-ups for Mr. Trump, and could write on our laptops if other news broke that morning.
Then Mr. Trump tweeted at 6:16 a.m.:
Donald J. Trump(@realDonaldTrump)：I cancelled today's meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice.
唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump)：我取消了今天和失败的@nytimes的会面，因为他们在最后一刻更改了会议相关条款。这可不太好。
A flurry of emails ensued. “Really? Is this fake news? It matters for what outfit I choose,” wrote Julie Hirschfeld Davis, a fellow White House correspondent.
一连串的电子邮件接踵而至。“是真的吗？是不是假新闻？这关系到我选什么衣服，”另一名白宫记者朱莉·赫希菲尔德·戴维斯(Julie Hirschfeld Davis)写道。
“At least he had the good manners to do it before we got on the train!” wrote Mark Landler, another member of our White House team.
Eventually, there was a decision. We would all cancel our train tickets and regroup at the bureau, two blocks from the White House. (That proved to be a fateful move.) “Dean says meeting definitely canceled,” Elisabeth Bumiller, the Washington bureau chief, emailed.
最后，我们做出了决定。所有人都把火车票退掉，在距离白宫两个街区的分社碰面。（事后证明，这是一个灾难性的举动。）“迪恩（指时报执行主编迪恩·巴奎[Dean Baquet]——编注）说会议明确取消，”华盛顿分社社长伊丽莎白·巴米勒(Elisabeth Bumiller)在电子邮件里说。
Elisabeth and I got to the bureau early and turned our attention to a morning television appearance by one of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers suggesting that the president-elect no longer wanted to pursue charges against Hillary Clinton, a change from his heated rhetoric during the campaign. Mark and Julie worked from home, shifting to what passes for a traditional workday in the postelection period.
And then, at 9:13 a.m., came an email from our publisher’s executive assistant: “Updated Invitation: It’s still happening.” Arthur Sulzberger Jr., The Times’s publisher, had apparently contacted Mr. Trump’s office and convinced him to reconsider. Mr. Trump later tweeted (at 10:40 a.m.): “The meeting with the @nytimes is back on.”
然后，上午9点13分，我们出版人的行政助理发来了一封电子邮件：“最新邀请：仍按计划进行。”时报的出版人小阿瑟·苏兹伯格(Arthur Sulzberger Jr.)似乎联系了特朗普的办公室，并说服他重新考虑。后来，特朗普（上午10点40分）发推文说：“恢复与《纽约时报》的会面。”
What followed was a logistical nightmare: How could we get from Washington to New York in time to meet with Mr. Trump? I logged onto the American Airlines website to no avail; the site wouldn’t book a flight with less than an hour before departure. Mark had similar trouble. Julie, though, had better luck: She called our travel service and got a seat on a plane, and was soon in a cab to Reagan National Airport.
Elisabeth and I jumped into a cab at 9:30 as Nicholas Fandos, the bureau’s intrepid clerk, called the travel service to book us tickets on the 10 a.m. Acela, which was scheduled to get into New York at 12:48 p.m. A $20 cab ride later, and with minutes to spare, we boarded the train. Julie made her flight thanks to a 40-minute delay at the airport. Mark, who lives further out in Chevy Chase, got stuck in Washington.
Our plans for polishing our interview approach fell by the wayside. Elisabeth and I prioritized 10 questions and emailed them to Julie and to Maggie Haberman, our New York-based White House correspondent, who managed to print them out just before the interview started.
The Acela pulled into Penn Station a few minutes late, arriving at 12:55 p.m. We bounded up the escalators, across the plaza to Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street and started jogging. By the time we reached 36th street, a cab pulled up to let someone off. Elisabeth and I jumped in, hoping that it might be faster. It wasn’t. At 39th Street, as the interview with Mr. Trump started, we handed over another $20 bill, jumped out and started running again.
At the Times building, the elevators were crowded and slow. After a maddening ride to the 16th floor (and a quick screening by the Secret Service), Elisabeth and I entered the boardroom, about eight minutes late.
Meanwhile, Julie was having her own delays. After landing on time at La Guardia Airport, she hopped into a cab, bound for the office. That worked until traffic — perhaps made even worse than usual because of Mr. Trump’s motorcade — ground to a halt at 37th Street, along with Julie’s cab.
She arrived at the interview a few minutes after Elisabeth and me, but in time to ask Mr. Trump about Stephen K. Bannon, the president-elect’s choice for chief White House strategist. “I apologize for my delayed flight,” she told the president-elect.
她比伊丽莎白和我晚几分钟到达采访现场，还是赶上了向特朗普提问，问题是关于被他选为白宫首席策略师的史蒂芬·K·班农(Stephen K. Bannon)的。“抱歉，我的航班晚点了，”她对候任总统说。
After the lunch, and Mr. Trump’s departure, Julie, Elisabeth and I hunkered down in the boardroom to write. Initially, the spread of food (salmon, beef tenderloin, frisée salad, barley salad with dried fruit) remained, but it was quickly cleaned up and taken away.
Shortly after 7:30 p.m., stories mostly finished, the three of us packed up and headed for the third-floor newsroom to check in. Dean Baquet, the paper’s executive editor, had “a few small thoughts,” most of which were fairly painless. Editors checked quotes in the story against the interview transcript, which was finally completed.
Elisabeth ran for the 9 p.m. train back to Washington, where she needed to catch a flight in the morning. Julie and I booked rooms at a nearby hotel and bought tickets on Wednesday’s 9 a.m. train.
Another eventful transition day done.