Trump repeatedly suggested invading Venezuela, stunning top aides

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"According to a senior official, Donald Trump insisted various times during a private meeting with the outgoing President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos and with other allied right wing, imperialist presidents, that one by one he canvassed them so that they would accept his idea of militarily intervening in Venezuela", Maduro said.

This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said, who spoke anonymously due to the sensitive nature of the discussions.

During a meeting about diplomatic sanctions the United States were enacting on the autocratic government of Venezuela, Donald Trump asked several close foreign policy advisors whether invading Venezuela should or should not happen. That official says President Trump asked why the US couldn't invade Venezuela, but his advisers discouraged the idea.

According to the New York Post, the suggestion stunned the aides, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster - both of whom are no longer with the Trump administration - and sparked a heated debate for about five minutes last August, the Associated Press reported.

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

He then went around asking each leader if they were sure they did not want a military solution, according to the official, who added that each leader told Mr Trump in clear terms they were sure.

They said they were sure, and McMaster eventually managed to persuade Trump of the dangers of an invasion, the AP report says.

Trump sent Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States to talk to the Venezuelan opposition leaders and see what they can do to improve the situation in the country.

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Venezuelans have also been fleeing to countries including Brazil, Colombia, Chile, the USA, and Spain.

Maduro's son, also named Nicolas, said a year ago: "Mind your own business and solve your own problems, Mr Trump!"

The White House declined to comment on these reports.

However, the U.S. president eventually failed to garner support for his plans both from the regional leaders and his own administration officials. But a National Security Council spokesman reiterated that the USA will consider all options at its disposal to help restore Venezuela's democracy and bring stability.

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Trump said last 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. Santos, a big backer of USA attempts to isolate Maduro, said an invasion would have zero support in the region.

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