The Department of Defense is pushing back on President Trump’s assertion that he is refusing to rule out a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
“The Pentagon has not received any orders with regards to Venezuela," Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, according to CNN. "The military conducts contingency planning for a variety of situations. If called upon, we are prepared to support ... government efforts to protect our national interests and safeguard US citizens.”
“Any insinuations by the Maduro regime that we are planning an invasion are baseless and are designed to distract from his continued efforts to undermine the democratic process and institutions in Venezuela."
In remarks to reporters at his New Jersey golf club today, Trump said he wouldn’t rule out a “possible military option” in Venezuela.
"I'm not going to rule out a military option," Trump said.
“Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and they’re dying,” he continued. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”
Trump declined to say whether American troops would lead a possible military effort in Venezuela, saying: “We don’t talk about it.”
“But a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue,” he said.
Venezuela has seen civil unrest in recent weeks after the results of an election to rewrite the country’s constitution. The Trump administration slapped new sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro and his associates following the election.
The State Department also ordered the families of U.S. diplomats to leave Venezuela last month because of “social unrest, violent crime, and pervasive food and medicine shortages.”