US President Donald Trump has expressed frustration with his senior officials over how difficult a task removing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has proven, anonymous senior administration officials and advisers to the White House have told the Washington Post.
According to one senior official, Trump recently joked that National Security Adviser John Bolton wanted to pull him "into a war" in Venezuela, with the joke reportedly revealing more senior concerns. He also complained about Bolton's attempt to box him 'into a corner' and go 'beyond where he felt comfortable' on Venezuela policy, another official familiar with US Venezuela policy said.
Three other officials also told WP that the president has complained openly about Bolton and others underestimating the strength of President Maduro, who Trump has reportedly referred to as a "tough cookie."
Officials said that the failure of last Tuesday's military coup have 'effectively shelved serious discussion' of major US military action in Venezuela, with the White House now hoping to wait Maduro out. Two officials and an outside adviser said that Trump is now disinterested in approving any kind of direct military intervention against the Latin American country. Options now reportedly include sending troops to neighbouring countries and/or the Navy to Venezuela's shores as a show of force, ramping up aid to Venezuela's neighbours, and providing more aid to Venezuelans who fled their home country during the crisis.
The long-running political crisis that was sparked in January when opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself 'interim president' entered a new phase on April 30, when Guiado and other opposition figures called on military personnel to join the opposition and take to the streets of Caracas to depose the government. The situation, which Caracas called as a coup attempt, turned violent, with some 240 people suffering injured, according to the UN. Venezuelan officials have begun a formal investigation into the circumstances of last week's violence.