Bolton alleges Trump said it’d be ‘cool’ to invade Venezuela
President Trump said it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela and that the South American country was “really part of the United States,” according to a forthcoming book authored by former White House national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton describes the exchange in his new book, “In The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” which was obtained in advance by The Hill as well as other news outlets.
“He says it would be ‘cool’ to invade Venezuela,” Bolton recalled then-White House chief of staff John Kelly as saying.
The former national security adviser lays out a series of allegations regarding Trump’s contacts with foreign leaders in his new book, which the White House has sought to stop from being published, claiming it contains classified information.
Bolton says the House should have investigated Trump’s dealings with countries other than Ukraine.
One specific instance he points to is the allegation that Trump solicited Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assistance in winning reelection. Bolton claims Trump stressed the importance of getting the vote from U.S. farmers and advocated that China make more purchases of U.S. soybeans and wheat to help his electoral chances.
Bolton’s book provides the first major look into the former official’s critical views of his ex-boss.
While House Democrats sought to hear from Bolton during their impeachment inquiry last year into whether Trump’s pressured Ukraine to investigate his political foes. Bolton declined and instead joined a lawsuit challenging their subpoena for his testimony.
The House impeached Trump on two charges, and the trial moved to the Senate. The GOP-controlled upper chamber ultimately voted earlier this year against hearing testimony from witnesses such as Bolton — who voiced a willingness to testify in the Senate — after a long back-and-forth debate about the precedent it would set.
Bolton’s book is not the first documentation of Trump’s musings about invading Venezuela.
In July 2018, The Associated Press reported that Trump asked his top aides why the U.S. couldn’t just invade Venezuela, which was reeling amid economic turmoil and civil unrest.
A year later, Trump said he was considering quarantining or blockading Venezuela as part of an effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro, who has been accused of rigging Venezuela’s presidential elections.
The U.S. and other countries did not recognize Maduro as the nation’s leader.
Still, when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself president of the country, Bolton reportedly described Trump as wishy-washy on providing him with his support.
While Trump agreed after Bolton pushed repeatedly for Trump to voice support and recognize Guaidó rather than Maduro as Venezuela’s president, he soon thereafter was musing that Guaidó appeared weak like a “kid,” while Maduro was “tough.” Bolton says Trump also viewed Guaidó as the “Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela,” which was not a good sign for the opposition leader.
Bolton also recalls that Russia helped dwindle Trump’s support for Guaidó.
In a phone call, Putin characterized Guaido as someone like Hillary Clinton, who decided to “declare herself president” without any real support.
Bolton called it a “brilliant display of Soviet-style propaganda from Putin” and claims this moved Trump away from supporting Guaido because not long afterwards Trump told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin he wanted to ease up on the sanctions.
“You couldn’t make this up,” Bolton writes.
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