Saturday, July 14, 2018

NO-POACH CLAUSES KEEP WAGES DOWN

Here's an example of how the system protects business and shafts workers. Trumps trade wars will raise prices on many consumer items.  If you think Trump's policies are good for working and middle class workers, you are suffering from a delusion.  Read the economic news!


Seven major restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s, agreed to drop a hiring practice that critics say may be keeping tens of thousands of fast-food workers locked in low-wage jobs.

Under agreements with Washington State announced on Thursday, the companies pledged to remove so-called no-poach clauses from their contracts with franchisees. Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Cinnabon also agreed to drop the clauses.

The provisions prohibit workers at, for example, one Carl’s Jr. franchise from going to another Carl’s Jr. They do not stop those workers from taking jobs at restaurants run by a different chain.

No-poach clauses have drawn scrutiny over whether they hold down pay for restaurant employees — one of the largest segments of the United States work force — and also contribute to a broader wage stagnation that continues to plague the economy long after the end of the recession.

Many types of franchise businesses impose the clauses, but they may be most prevalent in the restaurant industry. The fast-food sector, in particular, relies overwhelmingly on independently owned and operated franchise stores.

One such worker is Maria Sanchez, who worked part time at a McDonald’s in Grimes, Iowa, this year. She needed more hours than she was being scheduled for, so she found a job at a nearby McDonald’s that offered more shifts.

She said she had made it as far as orientation when a manager told her the store had learned that it could not hire her.

“I cried all the way until I got home,” Ms. Sanchez, who is originally from Mexico, said through a translator provided by the advocacy group Fight for 15. “I can’t survive with 25 hours a week.”

Ms. Sanchez, 50, said she eventually got a job at a different McDonald’s.

“I never told them that I worked for another McDonald’s,” she said, adding that she recently left the new job after hurting her back. “I was scared to mention that I was working in another McDonald’s, because I need my job.”

Unlike noncompete clauses, which job-seekers can review before signing hiring documents, no-poach provisions are buried in contracts between restaurant chains and franchisees, which independently own and operate the majority of stores. Workers at these stores may not even know they are bound by the restrictions until they try to land new jobs. . . .

After examining the franchise deals of 40 of the country’s largest chains, Professor Krueger and Professor Ashenfelter concluded that no-poach restrictions appeared to exist mainly to limit competition and turnover, possibly depressing wages in the process."
 
Seven major restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s, agreed to drop a hiring practice that critics say may be keeping tens of thousands of fast-food workers locked in low-wage jobs.
Under agreements with Washington State announced on Thursday, the companies pledged to remove so-called no-poach clauses from their contracts with franchisees. Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Cinnabon also agreed to drop the clauses.
The provisions prohibit workers at, for example, one Carl’s Jr. franchise from going to another Carl’s Jr. They do not stop those workers from taking jobs at restaurants run by a different chain.
No-poach clauses have drawn scrutiny over whether they hold down pay for restaurant employees — one of the largest segments of the United States work force — and also contribute to a broader wage stagnation that continues to plague the economy long after the end of the recession.
Many types of franchise businesses impose the clauses, but they may be most prevalent in the restaurant industry. The fast-food sector, in particular, relies overwhelmingly on independently owned and operated franchise stores.
One such worker is Maria Sanchez, who worked part time at a McDonald’s in Grimes, Iowa, this year. She needed more hours than she was being scheduled for, so she found a job at a nearby McDonald’s that offered more shifts.
She said she had made it as far as orientation when a manager told her the store had learned that it could not hire her.
“I cried all the way until I got home,” Ms. Sanchez, who is originally from Mexico, said through a translator provided by the advocacy group Fight for 15. “I can’t survive with 25 hours a week.”
Ms. Sanchez, 50, said she eventually got a job at a different McDonald’s.
“I never told them that I worked for another McDonald’s,” she said, adding that she recently left the new job after hurting her back. “I was scared to mention that I was working in another McDonald’s, because I need my job.”
Unlike noncompete clauses, which job-seekers can review before signing hiring documents, no-poach provisions are buried in contracts between restaurant chains and franchisees, which independently own and operate the majority of stores. Workers at these stores may not even know they are bound by the restrictions until they try to land new jobs. . . .
After examining the franchise deals of 40 of the country’s largest chains, Professor Krueger and Professor Ashenfelter concluded that no-poach restrictions appeared to exist mainly to limit competition and turnover, possibly depressing wages in the process."
 

 
 
 

WORKERS GET STIFFED IN TODAY'S ENVIRONMENT

As usual, when the economy starts to pick up, workers feel it last and least. (And when it goes down they feel it first and strongest) Immigrant workers, affirmative action, etc. are not the problem.  When are working and middle class Americans going to figure out who really is to blame for their economic woes?  It's corporate America and the government--which cow-tows to it.  Fox news, Trump, and white nationalists notwithstanding, those of the real culprits.  Wake up American workers. Don't let Fox and Trump distract you  fool you and hide the real source of your woe.
 
"Corporate profits have rarely swept up a bigger share of the nation’s wealth, and workers have rarely shared a smaller one.
The lopsided split is especially pronounced given how low the official unemployment rate has sunk. Throughout the recession and much of its aftermath, when many Americans were grateful to receive a paycheck instead of a pink slip, jobs and raises were in short supply. Now, complaints of labor shortages are as common as tweets. For the first time in a long while, workers have some leverage to push for more.
Yet many are far from making up all the lost ground. Hourly earnings have moved forward at a crawl, with higher prices giving workers less buying power than they had last summer. Last-minute scheduling, no-poaching and noncompete clauses, and the use of independent contractors are popular tactics that put workers at a disadvantage. Threats to move operations overseas, where labor is cheaper, continue to loom.
And in the background, the nation’s central bankers stand poised to raise interest rates and deliberately rein in growth if wages climb too rapidly.
 
Workers, understandably, are asking whether they are getting a raw deal.
“Sure, you can get a job slinging hamburgers somewhere or working in a warehouse,” said Christina Jones, 53, of Mobile, Ala. Ms. Jones spent eight months searching for a job with living wages and benefits, after being laid off from a paper company where she had worked for nearly 13 years. Dozens of interviews later, she landed work last month at a concrete crushing company as an accounts payable clerk for $14 an hour — two-thirds her previous salary.
“You hear, ‘Oh, the unemployment rate is as low as it’s ever been,’” Ms. Jones said, but “it was discouraging.”
Businesses have been more successful at regaining losses from the downturn. Since the recession ended in 2009, corporate profits have grown at an annualized rate of 6.5 percent. Several sectors have done much better. On Friday, for example, banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported outsize double-digit earnings in the second quarter.
Yearly wage growth has yet to hit 3 percent. And when it does, the Federal Reserve — which has a mandate to keep inflation under control even as it is supposed to maximize employment — can be expected to tap the brakes.

Labor’s Declining Share

Workers’ paychecks account for much less of the nation’s total income since the last recession, and the profits of businesses account for more.
Employee pay as a share of national income
68
%
67
66
65
64
63
RECESSIONS
62
61
60
1970
’80
’90
2000
’10
’18
Corporate profits as a share of national income
%
15
14
13
12
11
10
9
8
7
1970
’80
’90
2000
’10
’18
Source: Bureau of Economic Statistics | By The New York Times
As Fed policymakers have explained, allowing the economy to run too hot “could lead eventually to a significant economic downturn.” And persistent wage increases.
 
 

TRUMP, ROGER STONE, RUSSIANS AND COLLUSION

On July 27, at a public speech, Trump said:"Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing 

1,  It's outrageous that an American political candidate would ask a foreign adversary nation to hack American accounts.

2.  According to the indictment released Friday, Russian operatives targeted Clinton’s personal emails “for the first time” the same day.  Coincidence? Collusion?  Is the noose starting to tighten around Trump's neck?


WASHINGTON — It was one of the more outlandish statements in a campaign replete with them: In a news conference in July 2016, Donald J. Trump made a direct appeal to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and make them public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, referring to emails Mrs. Clinton had deleted from the private account she had used when she was secretary of state. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

As it turns out, that same day, the Russians — whether they had tuned in or not — made their first effort to break into the servers used by Mrs. Clinton’s personal office, according to a sweeping 29-page indictment unsealed Friday by the special counsel’s office that charged 12 Russians with election hacking.

The indictment did not address the question of whether the Russians’ actions were actually in response to Mr. Trump. It said nothing at all about Mr. Trump’s request for help from Russia — a remark that had unnerved American intelligence and law enforcement officials who were closely monitoring Russia’s efforts to influence the election.  [It did mention an unnamed Trump insider]

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But the indictment did offer some clues about what happened, implying that the hacking had occurred later on the day Mr. Trump issued his invitation. He made the statement around 10:30 a.m. July 27 at his golf course in Doral, Fla. It was late afternoon in Russia.

“For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the conspirators attempted after-hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office,” according to the indictment, referring to spearphishing, a common tactic used to target email accounts. . .

At the 2016 news conference, Mr. Trump made a series of statements on Russia and raised questions about whether the Kremlin had actually been behind the earlier hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee. Emails from the committee had been made public days before, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, creating a significant distraction as the party formally nominated Mrs. Clinton. . . .

Mr. Trump also signaled then that he would be open to recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The Obama administration and the European Union had considered the seizure illegal and imposed sanctions.

“We’ll be looking at that,” Mr. Trump said when asked if he would recognize Crimea as Russian land and lift sanctions that had been imposed after the annexation. “Yeah, we’ll be looking.”


 

Roger Stone appears to be the unnamed individual in a new Russia probe indictment made public Friday who is described as having communicated with Guccifer 2.0 [A Russian hacker] in 2016.

Stone, a longtime associate of President Donald Trump and political figure, agreed with the sentiment in a Friday night interview on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time."

"I think I probably am the person referred to," Stone said Friday evening.

From numerous sources, esp.


\

TRUMP'S LYING CONTINUES

Trump is a never-ending fount of lying

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/leave-the-dark-twisted-fantasies-to-trump/2018/07/13/d63f3352-86c6-11e8-9e80-403a221946a7_story.html?utm_term=.10a645262663

TED CRUZ'S POSITIONS ON THE ISSUES

Ted Cruz's positions on the issue (from Wikipedia)
"Regarding economic policy, Cruz supports free trade; wishes to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and implement a single tax for all citizens; opposes a higher minimum wage; and supports downsizing the United States government. On domestic and social policy, Cruz is pro-life, against Obamacare, same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, net neutrality, and immigration reform. He is in favor of the death penalty, the USA Freedom Act, school choice, and gun rights. Environmentally, Cruz is opposed to both the scientific consensus on climate change and the Water Resources Development Act. Finally, in regard to foreign policy, Cruz is "somewhere in between" Rand Paul's non-interventionist position and John McCain's active interventionism."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Cruz

Beto O'Rourke is on the opposite side on most, if not all these issues

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beto_O%27Rourke

https://betofortexas.com/issues/.

CRUZ LIED ABOUT HIS ROLE IN GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

"WASHINGTON — To hear Sen. Ted Cruz tell it, he deserves no blame for the 2013 government shutdown that cost the U.S. economy $24 billion.
"I have consistently opposed shutdowns," he insisted Monday in a testy exchange with journalists, hours before Congress voted to end a far less damaging three-day shutdown.
The assertion doesn't match the historical record.
"You've left me speechless," Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who seethed at Cruz throughout the 2013 episode, told reporters when asked about her Texas colleague's stance.
But while Cruz's stance caused dismay and allegations of revisionism, he has always maintained that Democrats bore responsibility for the 16-day shutdown — along with GOP congressional leaders who lacked the backbone to back him up in the crusade to defund Obamacare.
The episode remains a key moment in Cruz's five-year Senate career, elevating his status among tea partiers and propelling his 2016 presidential bid. He alluded to it often during the primaries, reminding voters that none of his White House rivals had fought as hard in Washington for their agenda.
Yet he has always denied responsibility for the shutdown, even in the run-up, at its height, and in the days afterward, as other Republicans openly fumed at him for pushing the tactic."

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2018/01/22/eyes-roll-ted-cruz-denies-role-2013-government-shutdown-speechless-says-one-senator

CRUZ A TYPICAL POLITICAN--TRUTH IS OPTIONAL

Check out Ted Cruz's list of falsehoods/misleading statements at factcheck.com.  Typical politican.  It's time for a change!

https://www.factcheck.org/person/ted-cruz/

At this time, there are no entries for Beto O'Rourke.  That does not mean, however, that he is 'squeaky clean.'  Just immaculate compared to Cruz

BETO CAN BEAT TED IN TX SENATE RACE


When Beto O'Rourke launched his campaign to unseat Tex. Repub. Senator Ted Cruz, many thought he had no chance.  Polls show the race is much closed than expected and O'Rourke can win if he gets the voter turnout.  Recently:

Beto O’Rourke Raises $10.4 million in second quarter of 2018, again outpacing Ted Cruz by wide margin(Texas Tribune)
This election is a chance to replace a tea party/evangelical/white nationalist/ etc. with a real 'human being."
 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Trump and Pompeo wrong about N. Korea negotiations

When Trump left N. Korea he spoke about how great things went.  Sounded like only the details needed to be worked.  So did Pompeo after his visit.  Looks like both have overestimated their negotiating skills. 


TOKYO — In a sharp signal that denuclearization negotiations with North Korea will be drawn out and difficult, Pyongyang on Saturday lambasted the U.S. stance as regrettable, gangster-like and cancerous, directly contradicting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s rosy assessment that his two days of talks had been “productive.” A harsh statement from an unnamed spokesman for the Foreign Ministry was carried on the state-run Korea Central News Agency just hours after Pompeo left Pyongyang on Saturday and told reporters that significant progress had been made “in every element” of what he characterized as “good-faith negotiations.” Pyongyang crushed that appraisal, saying the United States had betrayed the spirit of the June 12 Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.”


 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN ELECTON CONFIRMED BY REPUBLICANS


Art cited one source who doesn't believe Russia interfered in 2016 Presidential election.  Republicans on the Sentate Intelligence committe conlcuded that it was real. 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Senate Intelligence Committee report released on Tuesday supports three U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Republican-led committee’s finding suggests the panel continues to conduct a bipartisan inquiry into the issue amid political rancor between Republicans and Democrats on allegations that Moscow interfered in the election.

“As numerous intelligence and national security officials in the Trump administration have since unanimously re-affirmed, the (Intelligence Community Assessment’s) findings were accurate and on point,” said committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, a Democrat.

“The Russian effort was extensive and sophisticated, and its goals were to undermine public faith in the democratic process, to hurt Secretary Clinton (Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton) and to help Donald Trump,” Warner said.


 
Trump is the intelligence agencies boss.  Has he fired anyone for confirming the interference?  I don't know of even one Republican in Congress who has denied it is real.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Geo. Will Leaves Republican Party

George Will, a conservative Republican, who really digs into issues  has left the Republican party over Trump. It is no longer the party for Will.
If it isn't the party and President for George Will, but YOU still support Trump, you might need to consider stop calling yourself a 'conservative republican.  You definitely shouldn't call yourself a conservative Republican if you don't know who George Will is.

"
In a 2016 speech at a luncheon held by the Federalist Society, Will had previously urged other conservatives not to support Trump as the GOP nominee. “This is not my party,” Will had said, noting that while it was a little too late to find a replacement for him on the ticket, conservatives could “grit their teeth for four years” after making sure that Trump lost.

Will, at the time, said he had switched his voter registration from Republican to “unaffiliated” in the state of Maryland and told the Washington Post, where he writes his column, that he made the change after House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Trump for the 2020 election.

Will’s exit followed the departure of other notable conservatives from the Republican Party, such as Mary Matalin, a longtime strategist for the party, who left in May 2016. Matalin switched her party affiliation to Libertarian, though she noted that it wasn’t related to Donald Trump. For his part, Will did not say who he would support in 2020.


 

 

 



https://finance.yahoo.com/news/george-leaves-republican-party-urges-001048840.html

MORE FROM GEO. WILL ON REPUBLICANS


Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively — fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote.

The principle: The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers. They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.

Consider the melancholy example of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who wagered his dignity on the patently false proposition that it is possible to have sustained transactions with today’s president, this Vesuvius of mendacities, without being degraded. In Robert Bolt’s play “A Man for All Seasons,” Thomas More, having angered Henry VIII, is on trial for his life. When Richard Rich, whom More had once mentored, commits perjury against More in exchange for the office of attorney general for Wales, More says: “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for Wales!” Ryan traded his political soul for . . . a tax cut. He who formerly spoke truths about the accelerating crisis of the entitlement system lost everything in the service of a president pledged to preserve the unsustainable status Ryan and many other Republicans have become the president’s poodles, not because James Madison’s system has failed but because today’s abject careerists have failed to be worthy of it. As explained in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” Congressional Republicans (congressional Democrats are equally supine toward Democratic presidents) have no higher ambition than to placate this president. By leaving dormant the powers inherent in their institution, they vitiate the Constitution’s vital principle: the separation of powers.

Recently Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is retiring , became an exception that illuminates the depressing rule. He proposed a measure by which Congress could retrieve a small portion of the policymaking power that it has, over many decades and under both parties, improvidently delegated to presidents. Congress has done this out of sloth and timidity — to duck hard work and risky choices. Corker’s measure would have required Congress to vote to approve any trade restrictions imposed in the name of “national security.” All Senate Republicans worthy of the conservative label that all Senate Republicans flaunt would privately admit that this is conducive to sound governance and true to the Constitution’s structure. But the Senate would not vote on it — would not allow it to become just the second amendment voted on this year .

This is because the amendment would have peeved the easily peeved president. The Republican-controlled Congress, which waited for Trump to undo by unilateral decree the border folly they could have prevented by actually legislating, is an advertisement for the unimportance of Republican control. . . .

'isted, a)

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.

If you are a conservative Republican, you need to follow Will on Facebook

 

George WILL--DON'T VOTE REPUBLICAN FOR CONGRESS

A real conservative Republican, George Will, recently wrote
"Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively — fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote.

The principle: The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers. They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.

Consider the melancholy example of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who wagered his dignity on the patently false proposition that it is possible to have sustained transactions with today’s president, this Vesuvius of mendacities, without being degraded. In Robert Bolt’s play “A Man for All Seasons,” Thomas More, having angered Henry VIII, is on trial for his life. When Richard Rich, whom More had once mentored, commits perjury against More in exchange for the office of attorney general for Wales, More says: “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for Wales!” Ryan traded his political soul for . . . a tax cut. He who formerly spoke truths about the accelerating crisis of the entitlement system lost everything in the service of a president pledged to preserve the unsustainable status Ryan and many other Republicans have become the president’s poodles, not because James Madison’s system has failed but because today’s abject careerists have failed to be worthy of it. As explained in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” Congressional Republicans (congressional Democrats are equally supine toward Democratic presidents) have no higher ambition than to placate this president. By leaving dormant the powers inherent in their institution, they vitiate the Constitution’s vital principle: the separation of powers.

Recently Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is retiring , became an exception that illuminates the depressing rule. He proposed a measure by which Congress could retrieve a small portion of the policymaking power that it has, over many decades and under both parties, improvidently delegated to presidents. Congress has done this out of sloth and timidity — to duck hard work and risky choices. Corker’s measure would have required Congress to vote to approve any trade restrictions imposed in the name of “national security.” All Senate Republicans worthy of the conservative label that all Senate Republicans flaunt would privately admit that this is conducive to sound governance and true to the Constitution’s structure. But the Senate would not vote on it — would not allow it to become just the second amendment voted on this year .

This is because the amendment would have peeved the easily peeved president. The Republican-controlled Congress, which waited for Trump to undo by unilateral decree the border folly they could have prevented by actually legislating, is an advertisement for the unimportance of Republican control. . . . "

'isted, a)

 

 

Trump too cozy with Putin



American relations with Canada, Mexico and many of our allies have soured because of Trumps tariffs and other statements.  He called Canada’s leader weak and showed disdain for our allies at the G-7 summit and in remarks about NATO.  Yet, Trump makes sure his relationship with Russia is maintained and strengthened.  No conservative Republican would do this.  Is Trump in some kind of bromance with Putin?  Does he feel an affinity for dictators?  Does Putin have some ‘dirt’ on Trump (Perhaps video of  Trump and a prostitute in a Moscow hotel room)?

WASHINGTON -- One of the enduring mystery off Donald Trump's presidency is his soft spot for Vladimir Putin and Russia. Over and over, he has rejected the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. He's lauded Putin as a strong and effective leader.

Sen. John Cornyn, for one, isn't sure that Trump is sufficiently clear-eyed about the former KGB colonel ahead of a summit set for July 16 in Finland.

"Honestly I'm a little confused by the reports I see," said the Texas Republican, the No. 2 Senate majority leader. "On one occasion the president concedes that Russians tried to meddle in the election. And then I've read reports where he says they did not. I'm confident that they did."

Cornyn has no objection to the summit in Helsinki. The two nations have plenty to discuss, and a variety of areas in which they cooperate, including in the fight against ISIS and on space endeavors. 

But he said, "I'm hopeful that the president goes into this understanding what he's dealing with and who he's dealing with. It's somebody who I would not trust any further than I can see him."

From Cornyn, that's a fairly tough statement. He's not one of those bomb throwers who typically chides members of his own party. He rarely voices any criticism of Trump.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed Russian misdeeds, from its meddling in the 2016 election to its aggression against Ukraine and others.

On Thursday, shortly before the White House and the Kremlin announced the summit, the president again soft-pedaled concerns about Russia's actions in 2016.

"Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" he tweeted.

Trump had long refused to affirm the universal judgment of U.S. intelligence agencies regarding the 2016 meddling by Russia, often deflecting the allegations by speculating that any such interference more likely was meant to help Hillary Clinton than him.

On Friday, he told reporters flying with him to New Jersey aboard Air Force One that election interference will be among the many topics he raises with Putin. 

"We're going to be talking about Ukraine, we're going to be talking about Syria, we're going to be talking about elections. We don't want anybody tampering with elections," he said. But he also shrugged aside the idea of confronting Russia over Crimea. "President Obama allowed that to happen. ... It could've been handled much differently."

In the last few weeks alone, as The New York Times noted, Trump has called for readmitting Russia to the Group of 7 -- the club of western industrial democracies that ejected Russia after it invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. That was especially remarkable given how far Trump went to antagonize fellow G-7 leaders over trade policy at their recent summit in Canada.

He's suggested that Russia had a legitimate claim in Crimea because of the many Russian speakers there.

The Trump administration has provided lethal aide to Ukraine. And it has imposed financial sanctions on many in Putin's inner circle. The State Department has condemned Russia for cyberattacks. And at times Trump himself has aimed stern rhetoric at Russia. But mostly, he has refrained from any public lashing of even the most egregious behavior by Putin, leaving national security experts concerned about how he'll approach the summit.

It's a concern that Cornyn shares.

"Make no mistake, President Trump agrees Russia interfering in our election is something they simply cannot do," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week.  "When the president meets with Vladimir Putin, he will make clear that meddling in our elections is completely unacceptable."

Vice President Mike Pence, traveling in South America, predicted that Trump would raise the issue in Helsinki. "He's discussed that with President Putin before. I would anticipate that he will discuss that with him again," he told Bloomberg.

But Trump himself has projected more eagerness to butter up Putin than to lay down markers or draw red lines -- whether in Crimea or Syria, or in the American social media battle space and electoral tug of war. And he'll be the one sitting with Putin in Helsinki.

At a rally in Fargo, N.D., on Wednesday night, Trump repeated his complaint about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which began with allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russians.

"They go after us for a Russian hoax. It's a witch hunt hoax," he said.

As for his outward friendliness toward the likes of North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Putin, he told the crowd, "Getting along with countries, getting along with China, getting along with Russia, getting along with these countries is a good thing. It's not a bad thing. Not a bad thing."

Cornyn readily agreed that keeping good relations with adversaries can be helpful. He speculated that when the president downplays Russia's meddling in the election, he's focused on the conclusion that Russia's actions, whatever they were, didn't affect the outcome or undermine the legitimacy of his win.

"I'm also confident that it did not change the outcome of the election, which may be what he's referring to," the senator said.

And he agrees that a summit with Putin could be useful.

"There are items of common interest between us and the Russians. Clearly they are an adversary of the United States. They're an existential threat to us, according to Gen. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," he said. "They're aggressive, as we've seen in Crimea and Ukraine and now in Syria, and are allied with some of the worst actors in the planet, like Iran, along with groups like Hezbollah."

He noted that Russia has backed Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian autocrat and "butcher ... who's killed hundreds of thousands of his own people in that terrible civil war, aided and abetted by the Russians."

Trump does not refer to Russia as an adversary or an aggressor.

"I do think there are some items of common interest, for example ISIS," Cornyn said. "So I do think that there are things that the president and Putin can talk about."

But he said, "They are not our friends."”

Cornyn is a true conservative Republican—Trump is not.