Monday, May 6, 2019

On Venezuela, Trump sides with Putin over his own team


A few months ago, Axios had an interesting report on Donald Trump’s perspective on Venezuela, which had been shaped in part on the president’s interactions with “the Venezuelan expats who frequent his golf club” in south Florida. As crises in the South American country mounted, this did not inspire confidence in the future of the administration’s policy.
Late last week, however, anxieties grew more acute. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the case that Russia had effectively “invaded” Venezuela, and as a consequence, Moscow was exerting undo control over developments in the country. It was a message Pompeo – the United States’ chief diplomat and the man responsible for executing the American president’s foreign policy – had pushed repeatedly in a variety of forums.
Similarly, White House National Security Advisor Michael Bolton thought it was his job to push back against Russian interference in Venezuelan affairs. All of which made this Oval Office exchange between a reporter and Donald Trump on Friday afternoon that much more notable.

Q: Mr. President, you spoke with Vladimir Putin earlier today.
TRUMP: Yes, I did.
Q: What options are you looking at to get humanitarian assistance to Venezuela?
TRUMP: Yeah, I had a very good talk with President Putin – probably over an hour. And 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.

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