Donald Trump says US would send an army, not two mercenaries, to overthrow Venezuela's Maduro

‘If we ever did anything with Venezuela, it wouldn’t be that way, it would be a slightly different, it would be called an invasion’

Justin Vallejo
New York
Friday 08 May 2020 21:19
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Pompeo threatens Maduro with 'every tool' over detained Americans

Donald Trump has denied the US was behind a failed coup attempt in Venezuela, saying he would send an entire army if he wanted to invade the country.

Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro says the president is the “direct chief” of the invasion, and aired an American ex-special forces soldier on state television apparently confessing to the plot.

In an interview on Fox & Friends on Friday, Mr Trump said he wouldn’t make a secret about it if he wanted to go into Venezuela.

“I’d go in, I’d go in and they would do nothing about it, they would roll over. I wouldn’t send a small little group -- it would be called an army,” Mr Trump said.

“I don’t know too much about it. This was a rogue group that went in there, a lot of Venezuelans, I think people from other countries also.”

Luke Denman and Airan Berry were two of 13 people arrested by Venezuelan authorities about 40 miles west of Caracas’ airport, by the coastal town of Chuao.

In the video aired on Venezuelan TV, Mr Denman said Mr Trump was in command of the operation to help Venezuelans take back control of their country.

“Securing the sector, establishing outer security, communicating with the tower, bringing in planes, one of which includes one to put Maduro on and take him back to the United States,” he said of his role in the operation.

The two Americans had been contracted by Florida security firm Silvercorp USA to seize control of Caracas airport and fly Mr Maduro to the US, where there is a $15m reward for information leading to his arrest.

“I saw their pictures on a beach. It wasn’t led by General George Washington, obviously, this was not a good attack. I think they were caught before they ever hit land but I know nothing about it, I say that the government has nothing to do with it at all,” Mr Trump said.

“I have to find out what happened, but if we ever did anything with Venezuela, it wouldn’t be that way, it would be a slightly different, it would be called an invasion.”

Mr Trump’s comments reflect those of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said the US would use “every tool” it has to free the Americans.

“If we had been involved,” Mr Pompeo said of any mission in the troubled South American country, “it would have gone much differently.”

The US department of justice charged Mr Maduro and other members of his government in March with drug trafficking, weapons offences and narco-terrorism.

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