President Donald Trump appeared to contradict his own senior officials' claims about Russian "involvement" in Venezuela on Friday following his telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We talked about many things. Venezuela was one of the topics. And he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way," Trump said, speaking to reporters in Washington on Friday during a meeting with the Slovak prime minister.
Trump's remarks appeared to stand at odds with earlier claims by several of his key officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, about alleged Russian "interference" in Venezuela.
On Wednesday, Pompeo had a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, telling him that Russia should "not interfere" in the Latin American country. Lavrov called the allegations of Russian involvement "rather surreal" and said that Russia's "principled position" was to "never interfere in the affairs of others."
Pompeo, Bolton and acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan met at the pentagon on Friday to discuss military options in Venezuela, with Shanahan reiterating the White House's oft-repeated claim that all options remained "on the table" in resolving the Venezuelan crisis and dismissing concerns about a lack of good intelligence on the Venezuelan country.
Later Friday, unnamed sources told CNN that President Trump had asked questions "about the reliability of US intelligence" on Venezuela, given that the expected military uprising hoped for by opposition leader Juan Guaido "and some US officials" earlier this week failed to pay off.