Trump asked aides about invading Venezuela

Trump mulled invading Venezuela to stabilize the South American country racked by economic and social turmoil

Trump 'pressed aides about Venezuela invasion' - ITV News

Last August, Trump was finishing off a meeting in the Oval Office to discuss new sanctions against Venezuela.

His national security chief, HR McMaster, and secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, are said to have been shocked by his suggestion, according to reports.

They explained that military action would likely alienate Latin American governments who were working together to punish and ostracize Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro.

But Trump pushed back.

Trump nonetheless persisted. He pointed to the successful invasions of Panama and Grenada during the 1980s - countries which, together, have about 13 percent of Venezuela's population - as examples of successful military interventions in the region.

Sources told the AP that Trump's aides told him an invasion was a bad idea but that Trump persisted and even floated the idea with nearby countries.

Trump said publicly in August that a military option was not out of the question for dealing with the Venezuelan crisis, but details of the president's seriousness about the issue had not been reported until Wednesday. The public remarks were initially dismissed in United States policy circles as the sort of martial bluster people have come to expect from the reality TV star turned commander in chief.

The President is said to have put the idea to Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, who also dismissed it. Two high-ranking Colombian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing Trump confirmed the report.

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He again discussed the idea during the U.N. General Assembly in September with leaders from other Latin American countries, before McMaster reminded him of the dangers of invading another country.

He then went around the table to ask the leaders whether they were certain they didn't want the USA to invade Venezuela, to which each leader said clearly that they were, the AP reported. But critics say it also underscores how his "America First" foreign policy at times can seem outright reckless, providing ammunition to America's adversaries.

REUTERS/Carlos JassoNicolas Maduro at a rally in Caracas in May 2018.

The White House declined to comment on the private conversations. However, a National Security Council spokesman told AP that the USA still considers all options at its disposal to help "restore Venezuela's democracy".

Of course if Donald Trump did decide to invade Venezuela, he'd be taking part in a storied American tradition.

Venezuelans have also been fleeing to countries including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the USA, and Spain.

"We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbour", Trump said.

Maduro's son, also named Nicolas, said previous year: "Mind your own business and solve your own problems, Mr. Trump!" "If Venezuela were attacked, the rifles will arrive in New York, Mr. Trump", the younger Maduro said.

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