Donald Trump: US President asked repeatedly if he could INVADE Venezuela

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds up the National Electoral Council certificate declaring him the winner of the presidential election during a ceremony at CNE headquarters in Caracas Venezuela

Donald Trump asked senior aides about the possibility of invading Venezuela, according to an official.

In an exchange that lasted about five minutes, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - who were both stunned by the suggestion - pushed back against the idea, according to the Associated Press.

Donald Trump reportedly asked senior administration officials and world leaders if the USA could invade Venezuela to bring stability to the country's political crisis.

The next day, August 11, Trump floated the idea that he would use a "military option" to solve the escalating unrest in Venezuela that threatened security in the area.

At a private dinner held around a UN General Assembly meeting in NY a month later, the AP said, Trump proceeded to ask the leaders of four Latin American countries whether they would accept military action.

But Trump's threat of a "military option" in Venezuela past year was enough to boost Maduro's government and trigger anti-U.S. protests in the capital Caracas, even though few USA observers took his threat seriously in absence of the details that have now emerged.

"My staff told me not to say this", Trump said and then asked the other leaders at the table in turn, if they were sure they didn't want a military solution.

Eventually, McMaster was able to persuade Trump of how unsafe an invasion would be.

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Trump said publicly in August that a military option was not out of the question for dealing with the Venezuelan crisis, but details of the president's seriousness about the issue had not been reported until Wednesday. But critics say it also underscores how his "America First" foreign policy at times can seem outright reckless, providing ammunition to America's adversaries.

The White House announced later it had refused to take a call from Maduro.

Venezuelans have also been fleeing to countries including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the USA, and Spain. But a National Security Council spokesman reiterated that the U.S. will consider all options at its disposal to help restore Venezuela's democracy and bring stability.

It was reportedly the next day after this meeting, when Trump infamously threatened Caracas with "military option", provoking outrage both in Venezuela and overseas.

Under Mr Trump's leadership, the US, Canada and the European Union have levied sanctions on dozens of senior Venezuelan officials, including Mr Maduro himself, over allegations of corruption, drug trafficking and human rights abuses.

"A military intervention on the part of the United States empire will never be a solution to Venezuela's problems", Maduro said. The Mercosur trade bloc, which includes Brazil and Argentina, issued a statement saying "the only acceptable means of promoting democracy are dialogue and diplomacy" and repudiating "any option that implies the use of force".

To invade the country would be a drastic escalation from the United State's current diplomatic response to the Venezuelan government.

Washington might indeed have not entirely given up on an idea of an intervention, or at least a military coup in Venezuela.

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