Trump pon­ders mil­i­tary ac­tion against Venezuela.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jill Colvin

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said he wouldn’t rule out mil­i­tary ac­tion against Venezuela in re­sponse to the coun­try’s de­scent into po­lit­i­cal chaos.

WASHINGTON» Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Fri­day that he wouldn’t rule out mil­i­tary ac­tion against Venezuela in re­sponse to the coun­try’s de­scent into po­lit­i­cal chaos fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Nicolas Maduro’s power grab.

Speak­ing to re­porters at his Bed­min­ster, New Jersey, golf club, Trump be­moaned the coun­try’s grow­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis and de­clared that 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.

Venezuela’s de­fense min­is­ter called Trump’s talk of a mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion an act of “crazi­ness” and “supreme ex­trem­ism.”

Gen. Vladimir Padrino, a close ally of Maduro, said, “With this ex­trem­ist elite that’s in charge in the U.S., who knows what will hap­pen to the world?”

The White House later re­leased a state­ment say­ing it had re­jected a re­quest from Maduro to speak by phone with Trump. The state­ment said, “Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democ­racy is re­stored in that coun­try.”

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.

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