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George H.W. Bush calls Trump ‘a blowhard’ in new book

It’s a breach of etiquette by a former president, but George H.W. Bush did not mince words when describing Donald Trump.

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“He’s a blowhard,” the 41st president tells historian Mark Updegrove in the book “The Last Republicans,” which goes on sale Nov. 14.

Former President George W. Bush also rebuked Trump, CNN reported, saying that “This guy doesn't know what it means to be president.”

Those stinging comments mark the first time the former presidents are speaking out about Trump in such stark terms, as part of a new book about the father and son by historian Mark Updegrove, titled “The Last Republicans.”

Both men went on the record to give Updegrove their candid assessments of Trump, as well as their thoughts on the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported.

The elder Bush’s comments about Trump were made in May 2016, CNN reported.

“I don't like him. I don't know much about him, but I know he's a blowhard,” said Bush, now 93. “And I'm not too excited about him being a leader.”

When Updegrove asked the former president what he thought Trump’s goals might be in running for president, Bush said Trump had “a certain ego.”

George W. Bush’s comments were slightly less inflammatory than his father’s, although he told Updegrove that while he thought Trump could unify the country, it would require “humility,” CNN reported.

“If you look at the Bush family, it makes perfect sense. Donald Trump is everything that the Bush family is not,” Updegrove told CNN. “George Bush grew up thinking about the greater good. Donald Trump is manifestly narcissistic. It's part of his brand. And that brand is the antithesis of the Bush brand.”

CNN reached out to both former presidents' offices for further comments and they both confirmed that they had spoken with Updegrove on the record, but as a policy do not comment on books.

In the end, neither Bush voted for their party's nominee. George H.W. Bush confirmed that he voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. George W. Bush told Updegrove he left the top of the ballot blank.

"I voted 'None of the Above' for president, and Republican down ballot in 2016," he told CNN.

The White House released a statement Saturday about the Bush family comments, calling the war in Iraq “one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history.”

Trump wins permission for 70 foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago

Like other Palm Beach County employers who staff their clubs with foreign workers, President Donald Trump is boosting the number of employees he’s bringing from overseas this winter.

Trump won permission to hire 70 maids, cooks and servers at the Mar-a-Lago Club for the 2017-18 tourist season, according to newly released data from the U.S. Labor Department. In 2016-17, Trump hired 64 foreign workers at the Palm Beach property.

>> Read more trending news

The trend is similar throughout Palm Beach County, Florida. Employers won permission to hire 2,159 workers for low-paying temporary gigs this winter, up from 1,844 in the 2016-17 tourist season, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of federal data.

A strong labor market seems to confirm employers’ claims that they can’t find the workers they need. Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate fell to just 3.6 percent in September, its lowest level in a decade.

Trump isn’t alone in looking overseas for low-wage workers through the federal government’s H-2B visa program. Nationwide, thousands of employers won permission to hire nearly 134,000 workers for 2017-18, up from 119,000 for 2016-17.

However, hiring workers from abroad seems to contradict Trump’s public pronouncements. The president has publicly shamed Carrier Corp., Ford Motor and others for moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

During a March 2016 presidential debate, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio criticized Trump for bringing in workers from overseas, saying American citizens could fill the jobs. Trump defended his hiring of foreign workers.

“It’s very, very hard to get people,” Trump said. “Other hotels do the exact same thing.”

Boca West Country Club remains Palm Beach County’s most prolific employer of foreign workers. It plans to hire 367 employees on H-2B visas this year, up from 351 in 2016-2017. Wages range from $10.25 to $17.64, similar to last year’s pay scale.

The Breakers in Palm Beach will hire 162 workers this year, up from 142 in 2016-17. Pay at the historic resort seems to be rising — the highest wage is $14.13 an hour this year, up from $12.74 last year.

Pay is rising at Mar-a-Lago, too. The Department of Labor gave Trump permission to hire 20 cooks at $13.34 an hour, up from 12.74 an hour in 2016-17. Mar-a-Lago also plans to hire 35 waiters and waitresses at $11.88 an hour, up from $11.13 an hour last year, and 15 housekeepers at $10.33 an hour, up from $10.17 an hour last year.

CareerSource Palm Beach County, a nonprofit job placement agency, says it knows plenty of American citizens willing to work at Mar-a-Lago.

"We currently have 5,136 qualified candidates in Palm Beach County for various hospitality positions listed in the Employ Florida state jobs database," CareerSource spokesman Tom Veenstra said Friday.

While Mar-a-Lago asks the federal government for dozens of H-2B visas every tourist season, the private club rarely asks CareerSource for help finding a local employee, Veenstra said. Mar-a-Lago in 2015 put in a request for a single banquet server.

In addition to the 70 visas at Mar-a-Lago, Trump also won permission to hire foreign workers at other properties that bear his name. He landed visas for 10 waiters and waitresses and six cooks at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, plus eight waiters and waitresses at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York. 

Trump on meeting with former campaign adviser Papadopoulos: 'I don't remember much'

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters that he doesn’t “remember much” about a March meeting with then-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about his contacts with people he believed to be close to Russian officials.

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In court documents released Monday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, authorities said Papadopoulos attended a national security meeting with Trump and other foreign policy advisers.

At the meeting, he touted his connections to Russian officials and claimed they “could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump" and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty

“I don't remember much about that meeting,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of a trip to Asia. “It was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time (ago).”

The meeting, which took place March 31, was attended by then Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who now serves as U.S. attorney general, and J.D. Gordon, a Trump adviser and former Pentagon official, according to The Washington Post.

>> Related: Read the court documents in the Papadopoulos case

Gordon told CNN that Trump “heard (Papadopoulos) out” when he offered to set up the meeting. He told the Post that Sessions “shut him down.”

“It was a bad idea and the senator didn't want people to speak about it again,” Gordon told the newspaper.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing earlier this week that she did not believe Trump recalled the March meeting.

The president boasted last week that he has "one of the great memories of all time" while defending his recollection of a call between himself and the widow of a U.S. Army soldier killed in an ambush in Niger. He has faced heavy criticism after Sgt. La David Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson, said the president told her that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Americans more stressed about future of country than work or money, study says

Money and career woes can be triggers for anxiety, but there’s one topic Americans are stressed about the most. It’s the country, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association. 

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The APA determined its results for its 2017 Stress in America study by surveying about 3,400 American adults who were 18 years old and older and resided in the U.S. between Aug. 2 and Aug. 31.

Researchers discovered that 63 percent of U.S. citizens believe the future of the nation is a “very” or “somewhat” significant form of stress. That figure is higher than other stressors, including money, which was a source of stress for 62 percent of the people surveyed, as well as work, a source of stress for 61 percent. 

When researchers dug a little deeper, they found that 59 percent of adults reported the current “social divisiveness” was also stressful. Of that number, 73 percent were Democrats and 56 percent were Republicans. 

“We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” APA’s CEO Arthur C. Evans said in a statement. “The uncertainty and unpredictability tied to the future of our nation is affecting the health and well-being of many Americans in a way that feels unique to this period in recent history.”

These are the political topics Americans are most concerned about:

Health care: 43 percent

Economy: 35 percent

Trust in government: 32 percent

Hate crimes: 31 percent

Wars/conflicts with other countries: 30 percent

Terrorist attacks in the United States: 30 percent

Unemployment and low wages: 22 percent

Climate change and environmental issues: 21 percent

» RELATED: Georgia among the most stressed states in the U.S., study says 

Furthermore, keeping up with the news is also stressful for adults. About 95 percent of people are following the news regularly, but 56 percent say it causes them stress and 72 percent think the “media blows things out of proportion.”

“With 24-hour news networks and conversations with friends, family and other connections on social media, it’s hard to avoid the constant stream of stress around issues of national concern,” Evans said. “These can range from mild, thought-provoking discussions to outright, intense bickering, and over the long term, conflict like this may have an impact on health.”

But despite the stress levels among Americans, 51 percent say they are more inspired to volunteer or support a cause. About 59 percent said they had taken some form of action, such as signing petitions or boycotting companies, within the last year.

Want to learn more about the results? Read the details about the findings here

» RELATED: Talking to yourself can reduce your stress levels

Trump nominee Sam Clovis withdraws consideration for USDA post amid Russia probe

A controversial former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump has withdrawn his name from consideration for a top post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the wake of reports that connected him to an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

>> Read more trending news

In a letter dated Wednesday and obtained by Politico, Sam Clovis said that he was "eternally grateful and humbled" by the president's nomination. However, he said he felt it best to withdraw his name from consideration for the USDA chief scientist post to keep from becoming a "distraction or negative influence" on the Trump administration.

"The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position," Clovis wrote. "The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Des Moines Register that officials respect his decision to withdraw.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopolous pleads guilty

Trump nominated Clovis in September to serve as undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics for the USDA. He has since come under criticism for his lack of science credentials.

Clovis currently serves as the USDA’s senior White House adviser.

The undersecretary position has historically been filled by people with advanced degrees in science or medicine, The Washington Post reported. Clovis, a former Iowa talk radio host and political science professor, has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in public administration, according to the Post.

In a letter obtained by the Post and published Thursday, Clovis confirmed that he did not have any academic credentials in science.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Paul Manafort, 2 other former Trump campaign staffers charged

Clovis has faced greater scrutiny in recent days, after federal authorities revealed that former Trump president campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to officials investigating Russian meddling in last year’s election and its possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Papadopoulos told investigators that he understood that one of the Trump campaign's main foreign policy goals was to improve relations between Washington and Moscow. To that end, he tried several times to set up meetings between Trump campaign and Russian government officials.

He failed to disclose his attempts to authorities, despite inquiries from the FBI. He pleaded guilty to lying to authorities on Oct. 5 and has since been cooperating with investigators, according to officials.

Court documents showed an unnamed “campaign supervisor” was in communication with Papadopoulos about his attempts to arrange a meeting between campaign and Russian officials. Clovis’s lawyer confirmed to Bloomberg News that an unnamed “campaign supervisor” mentioned in the documents, who was in communication with Papadopoulos about his attempts to arrange a meeting between campaign officials and Russian representatives, is Clovis.

In a statement released earlier this week, Clovis said Papadopoulos “was acting on his own and that the campaign had a strict rule against traveling abroad and claiming to speak on behalf of the campaign,” Bloomberg News reported.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that Papadopoulos was a volunteer who had little connection to Trump. In March 2016, Trump called Papadopoulos an "excellent guy" during an interview with The Washington Post's editorial board.

"He was going through the list of names ... (and being) complimentary to the people who were volunteering on behalf of the campaign," Huckabee Sanders said.

Senate Agricultural Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, told Politico that Clovis has been "a fully cooperative witness" in the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian meddling.

An unidentified source told NBC News that Clovis was questioned last week by investigators connected to the FBI probe.

John Kelly: Civil War caused by 'lack of ability to compromise'

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly drew criticism Monday after he suggested that the Civil War happened because of “the lack of the ability to compromise” while discussing the historical significance of Confederate memorials.

>> Read more trending news

Kelly made the comments during an interview that aired Monday night on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle.” Kelly was asked about a Virginia church that decided to move plaques that honored George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the wake of racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Washington Post reported.

Kelly called Lee “an honorable man” who “gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country.”

“Now it’s different today,” Kelly told host Laura Ingraham. “But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

>> Related: Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

He added that it’s “very, very dangerous” for people to view historical events through the lens of modern morality.

“History’s history,” Kelly said. “I think we make a mistake … as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, ‘What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.’”

His comments drew swift rebuke on social media from critics who argued that multiple attempts were made to “compromise” before the war broke out.

>> Related: Father of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer says he forgives James Fields

“Notion that Civil War resulted from a lack of compromises is belied by all the compromises made on enslavement from America’s founding,” African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in a series of tweets slamming Kelly. 

“I mean, like, it’s called The three fifths compromise for a reason. But it doesn’t stand alone. Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska Act. Lincoln's own platform was a compromise. Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He proposed to limit slavery's expansion, not end it. During the Civil War, Lincoln repeatedly sought to compromise by paying reparations--to slaveholders--and shipping blacks out the country.”

The debate over Confederate monuments in America ramped up over the summer after violence broke out between white supremacists protesting the removal of a Lee statue from a park in Charlottesville and counterprotesters.

President Donald Trump was criticized for his response to the incident, which left one woman dead and dozens more injured, after he said that “both sides” were to blame for the violence. Critics questioned his unwillingness to condemn white supremacy outright.

>> Related: Heather Heyer's parents preach love, action after daughter’s death: 'You just magnified her'

Trump told a crowd gathered for a rally in Arizona in August that the removal of Confederate statues was tantamount to trying to wipe out American history.

“They’re trying to take away our culture, they’re trying to take away our history,” Trump said. “And our weak leaders, they do it overnight.”

Still, dozens of statues were taken down in cities across the country after the Charlottesville protests.

Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chair, leaves lobbying firm amid Mueller probe

Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, founder of the Podesta lobbying group and brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, has alerted clients he is stepping down from the firm.

>> Mueller investigation: Paul Manafort, 2 other former Trump campaign staffers charged

That announcement came this morning in an all-staff meeting at the firm, according to Politico.

>> What are Paul Manafort, Rick Gates charged with?

>> Mueller investigation: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopolous pleads guilty

Last week, NBC News reported that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation was looking into the Podesta Group and Tony Podesta for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Podesta Group CEO Kimberley Fritts and a “senior group” will launch a new firm.

>> On Rare.us: John Podesta shares the details of the FBI’s involvement in his email leaks

The Podesta Group was one firm that worked on a PR campaign led by Paul Manafort for his client, European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU), which promoted Ukrainian interests, according to the Politico report.

>> Read more trending news 

Podesta’s announcement came on the same day that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates turned themselves into the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a 12-count indictment charging them with “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts,” per the indictment.

Judge blocks Trump from barring transgender troops from the military

A federal judge in Washington on Monday temporarily halted President Donald Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from joining the U.S. military.

>> Read more trending news

In her ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction against Trump’s decision, saying the plaintiffs in the case are likely to succeed in their argument that it violates their due process rights under the Fifth Amendment. Kollar-Kotelly was nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton. 

 >> On MyAJC.com: IN-DEPTH: President Trump: No transgender troops allowed in the U.S. military 

All five plaintiffs — a Coast Guardsmen, three soldiers and an airman with nearly 60 years of combined service — are identified as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit. They said they want to remain anonymous because they fear retribution. Some have completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawyers from the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, are assisting the plaintiffs. 

>> On MyAJC.com: RELATED: Transgender U.S. service members sue to block Trump’s ban 

The U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

Mueller investigation: Paul Manafort, 2 other former Trump campaign staffers charged

President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday to face 12 charges in connection to a months-long probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Manafort and his attorney showed up at the FBI’s Washington field office around 8:15 a.m., The New York Times reported. Gates also turned himself in, The Associated Press reported.

In a 31-page, 12-count indictment approved Friday by a grand jury, federal prosecutors accused Manafort and Gates of conspiring against the United States, conspiring to launder money and working as unregistered foreign agents.

Another former Trump campaign staffer, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to FBI agents in the investigation, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, officials said Monday.

Mueller investigation: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty

George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser for then-candidate Donald Trump before Trump won November’s presidential election, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to the FBI, according to court records released Monday.

>> Read more trending news

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5 to lying to federal authorities investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump campaign officials. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named special counsel to head the investigation in May.

Mueller's office released unsealed court records on Monday showing Papadopoulos admitted to misleading FBI agents during interviews on Jan. 27 and Feb. 17 about his contact with people thought to be connected to high-ranking Russian officials.

The case marks the first known guilty plea connected to the Mueller investigation.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Paul Manafort, 2 other former Trump campaign staffers indicted

Papadopoulos told investigators that he understood that one of the Trump campaign's main foreign policy goals was to improve relations between Washington and Moscow. To that end, he tried several times to set up meetings between Trump campaign and Russian government officials.

He failed to disclose his attempts to authorities, despite inquiries from the FBI.

He admitted that he lied about when he met a London-based professor who claimed that the Russians had "thousands of emails" that amounted to "dirt" on Trump rival Hillary Clinton. He told that he met the professor before joining the presidential campaign in March 2016 and attempted to downplay their communications, telling agents that he believed the professor "was 'BS'ing, to be completely honest."

However, officials determined that the meeting took place in London days after Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign and that Papadopoulos kept contact with the professor for months. He believed the professor was well-connected in Russian government circles and communicated with him about foreign policy issues in an effort to arrange a “history making” meeting between Trump campaign and Russian government officials, court records show.

He also lied about his contact with an unnamed Russia woman, who he identified in an email as “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s niece,” and contact with a person who said he had connections to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, court records show.

Authorities said Papadopoulos believed the unidentified Russian woman could help him to arrange a possible foreign policy trip to Russia. 

>> Related: Reports: Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, told to surrender to federal authorities 

Officials indicated that Papadopoulos made moves to bury his ties to the professor and the person connected to the Russian Foreign Ministry when, one day after his second interview with FBI officials, he deactivated a longtime Facebook account that he kept "which contained information about communications he had with the Professor and the Russian MFA Connection," authorities said. He created a new Facebook page a short time later, which did not have the information on it. 

Papadopoulos also switched to a new phone number that same month.

Authorities arrested Papadopoulos at Washington Dulles International Airport on July 27 and has since agreed to cooperate with investigators, according to court records.

Mueller’s investigation continues.

>> Related: What are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates charged with?

Two other Trump campaign advisers, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, were indicted on a slew of charges Friday, including accusations that they conspired against the United States. Both men turned themselves in to authorities Monday.

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