John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan met in the Pentagon on Friday morning to discuss military options in Venezuela.
Speaking to reporters outside the Pentagon after the meeting, Shanahan, who cancelled a planned trip to Europe earlier this week to focus on Venezuela, did not detail any of the possible military options being considered, and did not say whether the Trump administration had approved military action in the Latin American country.
"We have a comprehensive set of options tailored to certain conditions, and I'm just going to leave it at that," the Pentagon chief said.
Shanahan reiterated the White House's oft-repeated statement about all options remaining "on the table," and said there was a "depth" to US military planning, with Friday morning's session being "really a true review" to make sure the administration was "in alignment" on the situation.
Shanahan also dismissed a reporter's concerns of a possible repeat of the kind of intelligence failures which preceded the 2003 Iraq War, saying he didn't feel "like we have an intelligence gap" on Venezuela. "We have multiple sources that we constantly sample, and then we have all sorts of other ways of doing collection…I feel very confident in the quality and the accuracy of the information that we're getting," the secretary of defence said.
Earlier this week, unnamed officials told the Washington Post that Trump showed more interest in Florida politics and his golf courses than a possible US military operation in Venezuela, and that John Bolton had been given purview over Venezuela policy. According to officials, Bolton staffers got into a heated debate with Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. Paul. J. Selva last week after Selva advised against escalating the situation in the Latin American country and failed to provide them with the requested military options.
US Southern Command chief Admiral Charles Faller, who said earlier this year that the military should be "ready to go" to support the Venezuelan opposition's bid to overthrow the government, sat in on Friday morning's meeting and briefed the senior officials on military options.