President Donald Trump has threatened military action against Venezuela, explaining the country ‘is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying’.
Trump, who had been spotted in golf gear during Friday lunch at his New Jersey clubhouse, announced to a crowd of reporters he is prepared to take military action against Venezuela following the government’s power grab and street violence.
‘We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option,’ Trump said. ‘We have many options for Venezuela.’
Off duty: A Snapchat user spotted the President in the clubhouse at Bedminster
Supporter: The Snapchat user who caught the president on camera in his clubhouse was clearly a backer of the commander-in-chief
‘We don’t talk about it. But a military operation, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue,’ he said, bringing up the military himself when asked what options were on the table.
‘This is our neighbor,’ he added. ‘We have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying.’
Protests erupted on the streets of Venezuela’s capital city Caracas after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after a July 30 vote that allowed him to replace the opposition-held National Assembly with his own supporters.
The US has imposed sanctions on Maduro while the United Nations condemned Venezuelan security forces for using excessive force and detaining people without cause.
Threats of potential military intervention have previously been played down by Trump’s national security aides.
After the president’s comments, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said the Defense Department has not been ordered to take any military action, but ‘we are prepared to support … government efforts to protect our national interests and safeguard US citizens,’ he told CNN.
The announcement came after a meeting at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
Trump has been blasting Maduro’s moves to consolidate power, describing him as a ‘dictator.’
The Trump administration has issued a series of sanctions against Maduro and more than two dozen current and former Venezuelan officials.
President Donald Trump with from left, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, arrive to speak to members of the media following their meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster
U.S. President Donald Trump (R), trailed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, announced he was prepared to take military action if necessary on Venezuela
Golf club players join members of the White House staff and security on the course as they all stop to listen to President Donald Trump speak
Trump speaks to reporters after meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (2nd R) and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster (R) at Trump’s golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey
But a military intervention would be an extraordinary escalation in response.
In another show of tough talk, Trump said issued a new ultimatum to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un from his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club, hours after telling the world the U.S. was ‘locked and loaded.’
He warned Jong-Un Friday that he will regret it if he issues a single ‘overt threat’ against the United States – after signaling that the U.S.’s supersonic bombers are on a hair-trigger to strike North Korea.
Trump revealed at the meeting that he plans to speak by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping this evening about North Korea.
State-run Chinese newspaper the Global Daily recently wrote an editorial stating that China would only intervene in the conflict, to stop America if they attacked North Korea first. If Pyongyang attacked they would stay neutral, they wrote.
Meanwhile, Trump has called on China to take greater action against their unruly neighbors – its ally.
The two world leaders are due to discuss the stand-off over North Korea’s nuclear program at some point this evening.
‘That phone call (with Xi) will take place tonight,’ Trump told reporters in New Jersey. ‘We have been working very closely with China and with other countries.’
Of course, Friday doesn’t appear to have been all about work.
In the interim, he had been spotted in the clubhouse by a golfer, dressed casually in a white Make America Great Again cap.
It appears he may have enjoyed a round or two before revealing he was considering military action against not one, but two countries.