Trump’s new remarks come a few days after he told Fox News that the US is dealing with “lots of options”, including “very tough” ones, on Venezuela, where he said “a lot of things” may take place next week. Earlier, the Venezuelan government announced that a coup attempt, initiated by opposition leader Juan Guaido, had failed.
US President Donald Trump has begun to question the credibility of Washington’s intelligence information about Venezuela and its leadership in light of the current events in the South American country, CNN cited unnamed sources as saying.
The sources claimed that Trump’s skepticism was caused by the fact that “the military uprising that [Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan] Guaido and some US officials were counting on failed to gain steam”.
This prompted Trump “to ask to questions about the reliability of US intelligence that suggested senior members of Maduro’s inner circle were preparing to defect”, according to the sources.
They added that the US President also pressed his aides on “how reliable the information coming from Guaido and Venezuela was and whether it was being interpreted properly”.
Separately, the sources pointed out that Trump was “urging caution among senior advisers moving forward and expressing frustration that some aides are more openly teasing military intervention” in the South American country.
This comes after National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan met in the Pentagon on Friday to discuss military options in Venezuela.
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. Pompeo, in turn, told a Fox News interviewer that “military action is possible”, adding “if that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do”. He was echoed by Bolton, who said that the US would not allow Guaido to be mistreated.
Earlier, The Washington Post quoted unnamed White House officials as saying that the Venezuelan opposition had held secret talks with some members of the country’s government that could have been a success, but “for now, it appears to have failed”.
The officials argued that the US did not directly participate in the talks aimed at elaborating a comprehensive blueprint to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from office.
This was followed by Trump telling Fox News that the next few days may see what he described as lots of developments pertaining to the current situation in Venezuela.
He also pledged that Washington would continue to support Guaido, saying that “we are doing everything we can do, short of, you know, the ultimate” and that “there are people who would like to have us do the ultimate”.
The development comes amid the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela, which escalated on Tuesday after Guaido announced the start of the “final phase” of the opposition’s campaign to topple the government and called on the military to support him.
The call to action led to clashes in Caracas between opposition protesters and security forces which left at least 69 people injured.
After the government announced the failure of a coup attempt, Maduro urged Venezuelans to take to the streets in the event that a fresh attempt was made to overthrow his government amid ongoing turmoil in the South American country.
He also pledged that in the near future, he would demonstrate proof about the involvement of some individuals in Tuesday’s coup attempt.