President Trump says he's considering military response to Venezuela
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said today he's considering possible military action against Venezuela in response to the country's descent into political chaos aftere President Nicolas Maduro's power grab.
Speaking to reporters at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, Trump bemoaned the country's growing humanitarian crisis and declared all options remain on the table – including a potential military intervention.
"We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I'm not going to rule out a military option," Trump volunteered, adding, "A military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue."
Trump's comment marks a serious escalation in rhetoric for the U.S., which has up until now stressed a regional approach that encourages Latin American allies to escalate pressure on the Maduro regime. Hours before Trump's comments, a senior administration official speaking on condition of anonymity stressed that approach while briefing reporters on Vice President Mike Pence's upcoming trip to the region later this week.
The Trump administration has slapped a series of sanctions against Maduro and more than two dozen current and former Venezuelan officials in response to a crackdown on opposition leaders and the recent election of a constitutional assembly charged with rewriting the country's constitution.
But even as the list of targeted individuals has grown longer, promised economic sanctions have yet to materialize amid an outcry by U.S. oil companies over the likelihood that a potential ban on petroleum imports from Venezuela – the third-largest supplier to the U.S. – would hurt U.S. jobs and drive up gas costs.