Last August, President Donald Trump raised the idea of invading Venezuela in order to neutralize the growing threat to the region says a senior administration official.

The suggestion came as a surprise to top officials, including former national security adviser H.R McMaster and former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who explained the risks of a military invasion, according to a new report by CNN.

Despite the unanimous disapproval of top aides, the president refused to let the idea go. The following day, August 11, he announced that a “military option” was still on the table in response to a power grab by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

At the time, many dismissed the comment as no more than talk from a new president. Even the senior administration official reported that this just seemed like a case where Trump “thinks out loud” as he often does.

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Still, Trump continued to press the idea afterwards, running it by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, reported a U.S official. The following month, the president resurfaced the idea at a private dinner with Santos and three other Latin American allies while on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Trump was specifically advised not to mention the idea by top aides according to the U.S official. But the president kicked off the conversation by saying, “My staff told me not to say this,” before raising the possibility of a military solution with top leaders who, one by one, firmly rejected the idea.

In the past, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has been viewed as reckless, providing ammunition to the nation’s adversaries. Venezuelan President Maduro has since armed himself with Trump’s comments in his consolidation of absolute power. During a military ceremony Wednesday, Maduro denounced the American “empire,” while emphasizing the “need to defend our right for peace, dignity and for the right to chose our own destiny.”

“A military invasion from the U.S empire will never be a solution for Venezuela’s problems” declared Maduro. “The greatest right our people have is the right to live in peace.”

The U.S has already levied sanctions on many top Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, over allegations of corruption, drug trafficking and human rights abuses. 

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