President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE on Friday claimed Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPutin blasts cancel culture, calls gender fluidity 'crime against humanity' Russia breaks daily COVID-19 infections, death record US, allied nations force REvil ransomware group offline: report MORE is not "looking at all to get involved" in Venezuela, contradicting some of his top advisers who have condemned Moscow for bolstering embattled President Nicolás Maduro.
Trump spoke with Putin over the phone for more than an hour on Friday, and the two discussed North Korea, trade, the special counsel's investigation and the ongoing situation in Venezuela.
"He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela. And I feel the same way," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with the Slovak prime minister.
Trump said the U.S. is hoping to get humanitarian aid to Venezuela, where citizens are grappling with a worsening crisis.
"I thought it was a very positive conversation I had with President Putin on Venezuela," he said.
Top Trump administration officials have blamed Russia and Cuba for propping up Maduro's government, putting Moscow on the opposing side of the U.S., which has recognized General Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's legitimate president.
Asked a short time later about the discrepancy between Trump's comments and those from his top advisers on the issue, White House press secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersTrump expected to resume rallies in June Andrew Giuliani planning run for New York governor Trump appears at Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaign event MORE Sanders said Trump "was relaying what President Putin said to him. That’s it.”
Hours before Trump's comments, national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat We've left Afghanistan — but its consequences are just starting to arrive It's time to pull the plug on our toxic relationship with Pakistan MORE tweeted that "Maduro is only clinging to power because of the support of Russia and Cuba, the only foreign military forces in Venezuela."
Only the Venezuelan people can determine the future of Venezuela. Maduro is only clinging to power because of the support of Russia and Cuba, the only foreign military forces in Venezuela. Without foreign interference, the democratic process in Venezuela would be underway today.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) May 3, 2019
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe The CIA's next mission: Strategic competition with China and Russia Biden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll MORE held a call with his Russian counterpart on Wednesday during which Pompeo warned "the intervention by Russia and Cuba is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship."
“The secretary urged Russia to cease support for Nicolas Maduro and join other nation, including the overwhelming majority of countries in the Western Hemisphere, who seek a better future for the Venezuelan people," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
Even Trump himself had previously warned against Russian involvement in Venezuela, declaring in March that "Russia has to get out" amid reports that Moscow had sent military planes to the South American country.
The Trump administration has placed numerous sanctions on Maduro and his allies to pressure him to give up power, and earlier this year led a coalition of nations in recognizing Guaidó as the true authority in Caracas.
Tensions appeared to peak on Tuesday, as anti-government protesters clashed with law enforcement after Guaidó called for a popular uprising to displace Maduro.
U.S. officials cast the events between Guaidó and his supporters and the Maduro government as a possible tipping point in Venezuela’s future, but by day's end Maduro remained in power.
Trump and other White House officials have repeatedly said "all options are on the table," including military intervention.
The Kremlin has denied that it has encouraged Maduro to remain in Venezuela amid the conflict.
Friday's comments are the latest instance of Trump appearing to accept Putin's explanation of the Kremlin's actions. The president last year said he believed Putin's denials that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, sparking bipartisan backlash.
—Updated at 4:17 p.m.