Trump open to meeting with Venezuela's Maduro

President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE said he would consider meeting with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and expressed a noted lack of enthusiasm for the country's Washington-backed opposition leader in a new interview published Sunday.

"I would maybe think about that," Trump said when asked about the possibility of meeting with Maduro during an Oval Office interview with Axios on Friday, adding, "Maduro would like to meet. And I'm never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings.

"I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I've turned them down," Trump added.


The president was also reportedly less than enthusiastic about his administration's decision to back Juan Guaidó, who declared himself president of Venezuela following the country's disputed 2018 election.

"I could have lived with it or without it, but I was very firmly against what's going on in Venezuela," Trump told Axios when asked if he regretted his decision to go along with former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonDiplomacy with China is good for America The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep DOJ launches probe into Bolton book for possible classified information disclosures MORE's urging to support Guaidó.

"Guaidó was elected," Trump said. "I think that I wasn't necessarily in favor, but I said — some people that liked it, some people didn't. I was OK with it. I don't think it was — you know, I don't think it was very meaningful one way or the other."

The president's comments come after excerpts from Bolton's soon-to-be released tell-all, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," alleged that Trump had been wishy-washy on Guaidó from the start. According to Bolton, Trump said the opposition leader was weak like a "kid," describing him as the "Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela."

Bolton also alleged that Trump said it would be "cool" to invade Venezuela, and that the South American country was "really part of the United States." The Associated Press in 2018 reported that Trump had asked his aides why the U.S. couldn't invade the country.

Trump's comments about Maduro appear to undercut his administration's hardline approach to Venezuela. The Justice Department in March charged Maduro and 13 other Venezuelan officials with narcoterrorism, and Trump in August 2019 expanded sanctions against the country into an embargo.

Bolton's claims about Venezuela were just some of the bombshells contained in his memoir, which also alleged that Trump had sought election help from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump in his interview with Axios said he had held off on sanctioning Beijing officials over reeducation camps in Xinjiang province because he was hoping to strike a major trade deal with China.