President Trump has reportedly cooled on regime change in Venezuela, and thinks national security adviser John Bolton "got played" along with the director for Latin American Policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, following an unsuccessful attempt at a coup by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, according to the Washington Post (citing their ever-anonymous sources).
A frustrated Trump believed that national security adviser John Bolton and his director for Latin American policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, “got played” by both the opposition and key Maduro officials, two senior administration officials said. As the president “chewed out the staff” in a meeting shortly after the April 30 failure, in the words of one former Trump official involved in Venezuela policy, he mused that he might need to get on the phone himself to get something done. -WaPo
The Post's report was vigorously disputed by National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis, who said "Not only is this patently false, but once more the Washington Post traffics in fairy tales rather than the truth."
Another senior official told the Post: "The United States never said that its effort in Venezuela would be limited to one round," adding "The administration’s maximum-pressure policy relies upon consistency and discipline to achieve the ultimate goal."
With sanctions strangling the Venezuelan economy, both Maduro and his opponents are becoming fatigued, which the Post suggests will "theoretically encourage negotiations over elections in which Maduro does not participate, although it may not ensure his immediate departure, as the United States has advocated."
According to the former official, Trump has thought of Venezuela "as low-hanging fruit" on which he could "get a win and tout it as a major foreign policy victory."
"Five or six months later . . . it’s not coming together," said the Post's alleged source.
Trump has gone all but quiet
According to the report, Trump has barely mentioned Venezuela lately - ignoring it during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday with campaign donors at his Doral golf club in Florida.
Trump’s Twitter account, which once provided regular saber-rattling on Venezuela, has largely gone silent on the subject.
In one exception, Trump tweeted early this month that “Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.” After Russia denied it, saying there had been no such action or communication with the administration, it was never mentioned again.
Early last week, responding to shouted questions as he prepared to board Marine One on the White House South Lawn, Trump blamed the ongoing Venezuela crisis on his predecessor and threw in a dig at his 2020 electoral competition. “It’s been brewing for many years,” he said. “It really started, in the worst form, during the Biden-Obama administration.” -WaPo
Bolton, meanwhile, keeps harping on Venezuela over Twitter - writing on Tuesday "The United States will continue to stand firmly in support of ending Maduro’s repression."
Maduro’s failed policies, inability to govern, and corruption have devastated Venezuela’s economy and forced millions to flee the country. The United States will continue to stand firmly in support of ending Maduro’s repression.— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) June 18, 2019
Imagine our shock.