Speed Reads


Trump reportedly asked aides about invading Venezuela last year

At the end of a meeting with top aides last August to discuss sanctions on Venezuela, President Trump surprised them by asking why the United States didn't just invade the country, a senior administration official familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.

For about five minutes, those assembled — including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster — told Trump that an invasion could backfire and would likely anger Latin American leaders, the official said. Trump didn't drop it, and the next day made public remarks about a "military option" to remove President Nicolas Maduro.

In September, the issue was still on Trump's mind, as he brought it up with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the administration official and two Colombian officials told AP, and floated it again later with Santos and four other leaders from Latin American allies. Trump shared with the leaders that his "staff told me not to say this," and asked if they were certain they didn't want to see military action; all of the leaders said they were sure, AP reports.

McMaster, who left the administration earlier this year, finally took Trump aside and went over in great detail all of the dangers associated with an invasion, the U.S. official said. The White House told AP it does not comment on private conversations, and a National Security Council spokesman said the United States will consider all options to bring stability to Venezuela.