Trump asked aides about invading Venezuela last year: AP

Trump asked aides about invading Venezuela last year: AP
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During an Oval Office meeting in August, President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE reportedly asked his senior advisers about invading Venezuela to intervene in ongoing issues in the country, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The official told the AP that the discussion did not amount to any formal plan to invade the country but was merely a discussion on the option.  

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According to the official, the question stunned those in attendance, including former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE.

Trump's top aides reportedly took turns explaining to him how invading the country could significantly damage U.S. relations with Latin American countries, among other possible issues.

The official, who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity, said Trump countered his advisers' arguments with examples of invasions he considers successful, such as the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s. 

The exchange reportedly lasted about five minutes. 

In a subsequent report by CNN, a senior official who attended the meeting said Trump was just thinking out loud.

"The president says and thinks a lot of different things," the official said. "He just thinks out loud."
 
A day after the meeting, Trump told reporters he wasn't ruling out a military option in the country. 

“Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and they’re dying,” he said. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possibile military option if necessary.”

Venezuela has been at the center of the Trump administration's policy in Latin America. Trump has issued a number of sanctions as well as strong statements to add pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to create free and fair elections.  

Venezuela has also faced shortages of food and medicine, intensifying unrest.

After the AP published their report on the meeting on Wednesday, Maduro cited the article as an example of the United States' military plans aimed at obtaining Venezuela's oil reserves.
 
According to the AP, Maduro told his troops to be alert and criticized the “supremacist and criminal vision of those who govern the U.S.”