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Capitol View commentary: Friday, July 1, 2022

Capitol View
Posted at 11:27 AM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 12:27:49-04

CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, NEWSCHANNEL5 Political Analyst

July 1, 2022

ON INSIDE POLITICS WITH MTSU CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR DR. JOHN VILE: WHERE ARE WE NOW AND WHERE WE HEADED ON THE ABORTION ISSUE IN TENNESSEE AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY? A PLANNED OFF WEEK FOR THE JANURY 6 HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE INSTEAD BRINGS EVEN MORE EVIDENCE AND REVELATIONS; A LONG NIGHT LOOMING TUESDAY FOR THE METRO COUNCIL; THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MEN’S SOULS; A GREAT LOSS; A STORY WITH HIDDEN VIDEO CASTS A STUNNINGLY DIFFERENT LIGHT ON GOVERNOR BILL LEE’S EFFORT TO BRING MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS TO TENNESSEE

ON INSIDE POLITICS WITH MTSU CONSTITUTIONAL SCHOLAR DR. JOHN VILE: WHERE ARE WE NOW AND WHERE WE HEADED ON THE ABORTION ISSUE IN TENNESSEE AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

A week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled there is no constitutional right to an abortion, sending the issue back to the states, the controversy, fallout and chaos continues nationwide.

There is elation from pro-life supporters who believe the Court corrected a 50-year error by eliminating the Roe v. Wade legal precedent.

Pro-choice supporters remain angry and concerned this latest conservative decision by the High Court might lead to the loss of even more individual rights in the future regarding contraception, or even the end of same sex or interracial marriage.

In Tennessee, under the state’s “heartbeat” law passed in 2020, which is now in effect, abortion is banned after six weeks of pregnancy (that’s before most women even know they are pregnant). Under another “trigger” law passed in 2021, abortion will be all but completely outlawed in Tennessee when it takes effect in the next few weeks.

To assess where things stand, and where the nation and the Supreme Court is headed, we have asked Dr. John Vile, a renowned constitutional scholar and a political science professor at Middle Tennessee Stae University, to join us again.

We thank Dr. Vile for being with us.

INSIDE POLITICS airs several times each weekend on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS. Those times include:

7:00 p.m. Friday.

5:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

1:30 a.m. & 5:00 a.m. on Sunday.

THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 182 and on NEWSCHANNEL5’s over-the-air digital channel 5.2. We are also on DISH TV with the rest of the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK.

One option for those who cannot see the show locally or who are out of town, you can watch it live with streaming video on NEWSCHANNEL5.com. Just use your TiVo or DVR, if those live times don't work for you

This week’s show and previous INSIDE POLITICS interviews are also posted on the NEWSCHANNEL5 website for your viewing under the NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS section. A link to the show is posted as well on the Facebook page of NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS. Each new show and link are posted early in the week after the program airs.

Finally, I am now posting a link to the show each week here on my own Facebook page, usually on the Monday or Tuesday after the show airs.

A PLANNED OFF WEEK FOR THE JANUARY 6 HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE INSTEAD BRINGS EVEN MORE EVIDENCE AND REVELATIONS

The House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6 deadly takeover of the U.S. Capitol was supposed to take the week off.

But rocking all of Washington, the Committee announced on Monday it was holding another public hearing to present and gather important evidence and testimony along with a surprise witness.

It turned out to be Cassidy Hutchinson, the top aide to then White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. She had previously testified multiple times to the committee on video tape behind closed doors. Snippets of her testimony had already been used by committee, in particular she was the witness that named the multiple Republican congressmen who asked the Trump White House for a pardon over whatever they did concerning January 6.

But that is not what she said that was so important that there had to be a special committee session called. Miss Hutchison is the first person in the Trump inner circle in the days surrounding January 6, to testify in person and on live TV. It seems the surprise session was held out of concern, that because of potential threats, the witness might change her mind. Ms. Hutchinson should be saluted for her courage to speak out, putting her professional life, and perhaps her safety, at risk, all in defense of our democracy. It should be noted that Ms. Hutchinson has testified under oath while those taking exception to what she said have so far not testified in that manner.

Did Miss Hutchinson deliver important information and testimony? Almost every media account say yes. Hutchinson came over as a credible witness especially in a key area (i.e., just like the Watergate Hearings from almost 50 years ago on the key question of: “What did the President know and when did he know it?”)

If her sworn testimony is true, President Trump knew his mob of supporters, who were set to go the Hill, were going armed. He had been told repeatedly there would be violence, but he insisted on them going, along with himself, even though his security detail refused to take him.

The accusation by Hutchinson that Mr. Trump physically tried to assault his protectors and grab the steering wheel did give the former President’s continued defenders an opportunity to attack her saying her testimony was all hearsay. Even the Secret Service says it may want to testify to give its side of what happened.

Even Mr. Trump himself is chiming in, although one of his reactions is a classic Trump evasion. Anytime anyone in his inner circle criticizes or levels charges against him, Mr. Trump says he doesn’t know that person or didn’t really work with them.

As for the impact of her testimony on Hutchison’s boss, Mark Meadows, that may be even more damaging.

Meadows has been among those in the White House inner circle to not fully cooperate with the committee. The day after this week’s hearing the panel further added pressure to Trump’s White House inner circle by issuing a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone after public pleas for him to testify before the panel have failed.

But the biggest remaining question is what will the U.S. Justice Department do in the wake of Miss Hutchison testimony? There have been increasing indications with subpoenas being issued, cell phones being confiscated and the home of one of President Trump’s former legal advisors being raided, that some in the inner circle around Mr. Trump are being investigated, but what about the former President himself?

It is common investigative process to make a case against those below the top level of the investigation to get them to turn on their bosses. But this is different from any such criminal case in American history.

Has the select committee been a help (?) to the Justice Department in making a case that involves a former President of the United States concerning his activities while still President? This is an area where Justice has previously said a prosecution is not possible. But this is also a potential case against a man who was once the most powerful person in the world and who keeps indicating he wants to be that person again? If the Justice Department doesn’t pursue a case will that encourage Mr. Trump or other future presidential candidates to try and overturn an election in the future?

A LONG NIGHT LOOMING TUESDAY FOR THE METRO COUNCIL

Looking at the Metro Council’s agenda for Tuesday night it sure looks a long session.

The calendar is 54 pages long and involves 147 pieces of legislation.

In fact, the most contentious item of the evening could be an ordinance on first reading.

Normally ALL first reading bills are passed, without discussion, on a single motion.

But probably not BL2022-1349. The ordinance approves an agreement between the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, the Nashville 2024 Host Committee, and the Republican National Committee for our city to host the 2024 Republican National Convention.

This is an event Nashville has been a finalist to host for months, along with Milwaukee. Governor Bill Lee in particular, wants the event here and the Republicans in the Legislature have appropriated millions to help pay for it.

But Nashville leaders, including Mayor John Cooper, are not so excited, citing the huge security and other costs to host a national political convention. Now, the National Republican Committee (NRC) who says it will make a choice on who the host will be by mid-August, wants both finalist cities to approve this agreement now before the Council.

The ordinance seems to address many of the financial concerns, and Milwaukee’s city council has already unanimously approved it. So why the possible controversy here in Nashville?

This is an excellent article by Steve Cavendish of the new NASHVILLE BANNER on-line news service (and published in the NASHVILLE SCENE). It lays out the many national and other political divisions across the nation and between our city and the state, how that is impacting this bill, as well as potentially the state’s significant funding for the proposed new $2.2 billion NFL domed stadium and events facility.

I think the article correctly sizes up the political situation of how and why the RNC agreement is positioned before the Council. My guess is that it is very possible the bill will be rejected outright on first reading.

If the agreement does pass, but with less than the 21 votes it needs for final approval on third and final reading in a few weeks, the measure could well be mortally wounded before it even comes up in committee for discussion.

The ongoing tensions between the two parties can be seen elsewhere in the Council agenda where two resolutions strongly oppose the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on abortion. One resolution urges the Metro Police to give a low priority to enforce the anti-abortion state laws that reflect the Court’s decision.

The other resolution would put the Council on record to spend local tax dollars to create a fund to pay for women in our city to go to other states to receive abortion services. The second resolution is not the agenda as of Friday. Therefore, it would have to be late filed. Under council rules, if 3 or more members object to a late resolution it could not be considered on Tuesday night.

Whenever such a proposal is finally considered, it would be highly controversial along with raising questions about its legality. Federal law does not allow tax dollars to be used for an abortion.

Even if state law is silent on the issue, it likely won’t be for long. I am confident Republicans in the General Assembly are eager and ready to pass a law that no state or local tax dollars can be used to facilitate an abortion in or outside the state.

There is another related element of potential controversy over local tax funding surrounding abortion services. Mayor John Cooper, along with some council leaders announced on Thursday they plan to ask the Metro Employee Benefit Board to extend health coverage for Metro employees to include reimbursement to obtain abortion-related medical procedures unavailable in Tennessee. The benefit would include transportation, accommodations, and related costs. The Council leaders say they will sponsor a resolution for Council to consider codifying this request.

This move could impact as many as 15,000 Metro workers.

THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MEN’S SOULS

The American patriot Thomas Paine wrote those words not long after the first 4th of July celebration was held in 1776.

The Revolution was not going well, and it was very unclear if the new nation would survive.

As we celebrate the 4th of July this year for the 246th time, you can make a case we are in a similar situation with our democracy today.

Just look at the issues we have been discussing already in this column today that are impacting the future of our country.

At least folks are very unhappy about the direction of the country. That number is up to a stunning 85% in a recent public opinion poll by the Associated Press.

While many observers will see this as more problems for President Biden (and it is, with his 39% approval rating), anytime unhappiness numbers are that high, it is challenge to all our elected officials and government institutions such as Congress, and especially in recent days, the Supreme Court.

I have not seen any right track-wrong track numbers for Nashville, but one study released by a Metro agency this week says the average Nashvillian is worse off economically this year compared to last year in unprecedented ways.

There are some small positive signs to report. Thousands of Families First government assistance recipients in Nashville and across Tennessee will soon receive an extra one-time $450 payment from the state to help with just in time back to school needs.

Even as the pandemic relief continues to ease, Nashville Mayor John Cooper says the city is now accepting applications for $18 million still available in federal assistance grants and loans for small businesses which still may be struggling to recover.

Two issues that have been a major pain for some Nashvillians, saw some potential relief this week.

First, Airbnb announced it is making its ban on parties in their short- term rentals, permanent.

Second, concerning a particularly vexing downtown issue, a couple of weeks after Mayor John Cooper said the city does not really need party buses, city regulators slashed the number of entertainment vehicles licensed to operate downtown nearly in half.

But disturbing and irritating problems continue including the still sharply rising number of guns in Nashville being stolen out of our cars. A number of those vehicles aren’t even locked.

Across the state, and here in Nashville, we continue to lose our ongoing overdose crisis, led by the deadly fentanyl drug. Our failure is leading to an ever- rising number of deaths.

And if you are receiving unemployment payments from the state, you may be cut off from benefits as we approach the holiday weekend, due to yet another computer related issue with the state.

A GREAT LOSS

The Nashville community is grieving the death of civic leader and entrepreneur Darrell Freeman, Sr. at the young age of 57. His loss is one a particularly difficult one to hear about as he is the kind of leader and person we need more of in our community. He has left us a quite a legacy.

RIP

A STORY WITH HIDDEN VIDEO CASTS A STUNNINGLY DIFFERENT LIGHT ON GOVERNOR BILL LEE’S EFFORT TO BRING MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS TO TENNESSEE

A story by NEWSCHANNEL5 INVESTIGATES Chief Reporter Phil Williams, using hidden video, shows the effort by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to bring at least one additional charter schools to the state in a stunning different (and negative) light.

The story, as they say, speaks for itself.

Stay tuned.