Top members of President Trump’s national security team met at the Pentagon on Friday morning to discuss military options for the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, a senior administration official said.
“This was really a true review and then making sure that we’re all in alignment,” Shanahan told reporters. Asked whether the “options” included U.S. military action, he said, “I’ll leave that to your imagination. We have all options on the table.”
“This is an issue of freedom vs. tyranny. Echoing @POTUS, we’re considering all options in support of the Venezuelan people,” Shanahan, who canceled a trip to Europe this week to focus on Venezuela, tweeted after the Wednesday meeting.
Earlier Friday, Trump spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Venezuela. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have accused Russia of propping up Maduro with money and military equipment.
Trump had said later in the day that, “I thought it was a very positive conversation I had with President Putin on Venezuela.”
“The Russians like nothing better than putting a thumb in our eyes,” Bolton told CNN Wednesday. “They’d love to get effective control of a country in this hemisphere. . . . We’ve made it clear to the Russians in a lot of different conversations at a lot of different levels . . . why we think that behavior is unacceptable to us.” Those conversations, Bolton said, “are going to go on.”
Earlier this week, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the United States recognizes as interim president, took to the streets calling for Venezuelan military support to oust President Nicolás Maduro.
Trump administration officials hoped it would be the turning point that toppled Maduro, which has become one of the administration’s key foreign policy goals.