The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, formally ended the American Revolution, established boundaries between the US and British-owned Canada, provided for the return of war prisoners, granted US fishing rights in Canadian waters, and declared the Mississippi River forever open to British subjects and US citizens. But there was one, somewhat obscure, provision in the document that opens the door – until recently firmly closed – to prorogation, or suspension, of the US Congress by the British sovereign.
September 9, 2019
By Andrew Squibley and Arthur Bushwhacker, Combined IQs for One Mensa Membership
WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) — Using an obscure — and only recently activated — provision in the 246-year-old Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution, President Trump has moved to suspend all legislative, investigative, regulatory and other constitutional duties of the US Congress for an indefinite period.
Trump last week made a formal request of Queen Elizabeth II, under Article 8 of the 1783 peace treaty, which was quickly approved by the Crown, to authorize a prorogation, or suspension, of the US House of Representatives and Senate, White House aides told Rueters.
The queen, who recently approved such a request from embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament in the Battle of Brexit, reportedly told close advisers, “Trump and Johnson are two of a kind. They both think I’m a gullible old lady. Well, this old lady has dealt with politicians a lot smarter than these two gits. Winston Churchill and John Kennedy come to mind.
“Let them explain to their constituencies what their plans really are, once the two buggering fuckwits figure them out,” her Britannic Majesty told friends. (Sources have often told Rueters the queen swears like a longshoreman in private.)
Parliament faces suspension this week, starting no later than Thursday, according to Johnson’s office. Johnson said the prorogation of Parliament will end about Oct 19, lasting roughly five weeks. Critics have lambasted the new PM for leaving the House of Commons virtually no time to avoid the threatened Oct. 31 “no deal” Brexit promoted by Johnson and opposed by a majority of British lawmakers.
Trump has not disclosed his proposed commencement date of the suspension — nor its duration — but sources have told Rueters it could happen within days to derail ongoing congressional lawsuits and investigations aimed at uncovering criminal activity and potentially impeachable offenses committed by the Orange Menace. His family, administration and businesses are all under investigation for potential wrongdoing, as well.
“Frankly, the prorogation could last through the 2020 election. Nothing helpful to Trump’s reelection is going to come from the lawsuits and various House committee investigations,” a senior aide told Rueters. “Why should he even let them (congressionals Democrats) take the field? And frankly, who the fuck is going to miss Congress?”
Maybe more people than the senior aide expects, based on bitter, angry posts to all major social media forums in reaction Trump’s unprecedented move. #DictatorRealDonaldJTrump is a trending hashtag.
The offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) issued a rare joint statement condemning the shutdown and pledged a fast appeal to the US Supreme Court. “How one man thinks his election makes him a dictator is unfathomable and runs contrary to the finest political traditions of this republic,” the top Democratic leaders said. “And he didn’t even win the popular vote.”
Meanwhile, top Republican congressional leaders said they would use the suspension to spend more time with their families while also campaigning for reelection. “The American public knew what they were getting when they elected Donald Trump,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “They shouldn’t whine about him when he breaks with a few traditions, or laws.”
HOW DID THIS GODDAMN THING EVEN HAPPEN?
Trump’s options regarding his preferred method of ignoring Congress and operating like his favorite international strongmen — Putin of Russia, Kim of North Korea, Xi of Ching, Erdogan of Turkey — were limited until this year. In early 2019, the Treaty of Paris reached the age of 245, old enough for the US president to invoke the second section of the treaty’s Article 8 — in effect, telling Congress to leave town.
According to historians interviewed by Rueters, delegates to the 1783 treaty convention — on both sides — expressed their doubts about the viability of the “American experiment” with democracy. “They thought that given time, the Americans might be looking for a way out” of their system of government, said former Howard University history professor Rudolpho Paolo Hocko, an expert on a lots of things.
“At the time, 245 years seemed a ridiculous amount of time to wait to change course, but eventually delegates John Adams and Ben Franklin agreed it was appropriate. John Jay went along with that timeframe from the beginning. So did British delegate David Hartley. They thought America would need time to sort things out,” Hocko said.
“So, here we have it, the president asking the queen of another country for permission to shut down an equal branch of the federal government. Is there much we can do about it? Don’t know. I think it’s too late for the queen to change her ruling, and she wouldn’t likely do it, anyway. She can’t stand Trump and knows he’s opened a hornet’s nest, which she was happy to help with,” the historian said.