Graham says Trump floated using military force in Venezuela

Graham says Trump floated using military force in Venezuela
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE reportedly broached the idea of using military force in Venezuela in a conversation with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-S.C.) earlier this month. 

Graham recounted the exchange to Axios, telling the news outlet that Trump asked him what he thought about using military force in a nation where the U.S. is pushing for regime change. 

"Well, you need to go slow on that, that could be problematic," Graham recalls saying to Trump, according to Axios. Trump reportedly replied, "well, I'm surprised, you want to invade everybody."

"And I said, 'I don't want to invade everybody, I only want to use the military when our national security interests are threatened,' " Graham told Axios. 

Graham added that Trump is "really hawkish" when it comes to Venezuela. But Axios noted that there are no signs the Trump administration has plans to invade the South American country. 

Instead, the administration appears to be pushing for regime change in the nation through diplomatic and economic pressures. 

The report comes as tensions escalate between the U.S. and Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro amid a political crisis in the nation. The Trump administration last week recognized Juan Guaidó, the president of Venezuela's National Assembly, as Venezuela’s interim president.

Canada, the Organization of American States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia also endorsed Guaidó after he declared himself interim president last Wednesday. Election officials said Maduro won the most recent election, but many organizations consider the results illegitimate.

Maduro has meanwhile vowed to hold onto power, and on Wednesday gave all U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. 

Guaidó told The Washington Post on Sunday that he's in talks with military and civilian officials as part of an effort to oust Maduro. 

“We have been in talks with government officials, civilian and military men,” Guaidó told the Post. “This is a very delicate subject involving personal security. We are meeting with them, but discreetly.”