VT: Truth? Trump had no idea who Maduro or Guiado were and, in this case, let Bolton, shilling for CIA and the Israel lobby, make the decision. Now Trump wants to side with Iran and Russia though there are, in actuality absolutely no real issues with Venezuela that weren’t started entirely by John Bolton personally.
Bolton writes in his book that Trump always thought Madero, Russia’s man in Venezuela, was the stronger of the two and that the US should always support the strongest, no matter the politics. Trump later pointed out that Bolton was the “dumbest human being on earth for backing the Iraq War, then of course Trump hired him as National Security Advisor over hundreds of better qualified candidates, all of them Democrats.
Driving the news: Asked whether he would meet with Maduro, Trump said, “I would maybe think about that. … 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.”
The big picture: Trump also indicated he doesn’t have much confidence in Guaidó, who has failed to wrest control of the Venezuelan government despite support from the U.S. and dozens of other countries.
- Asked whether he regretted his decision to follow his former national security adviser John Bolton’s advice on Guaidó, Trump initially said “not particularly,” but then went on to say, “I could have lived with it or without it, but I was very firmly against what’s going on in Venezuela.”
- Trump said that at the point he weighed in and recognized Guaidó, “Guaidó was elected. 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.”
Why it matters: If Trump meets with Maduro, it would completely upend his administration’s policy on Venezuela. Top administration officials, including Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo, have invested a huge amount of energy in supporting Guaidó.
- And in March, Attorney General Bill Barr announced that the Justice Department was charging Maduro with narcoterrorism. The DOJ press release announcing the charges referred to him as the “Former President of Venezuela.”