Speaking to ABC, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that Donald Trump “has his full range of Article 2 authorities”, when asked if the US president believes he could intervene militarily in Venezuela without congressional approval.
While emphasising that the US still has a “full scale set of options”, Pompeo added that he is fully confident that “any action” the US takes in Venezuela would be “lawful”. “So when the situation arises, we are not flat-footed”.
In a separate interview aired by Fox News, the US top diplomat reiterated his position on what he describes as the “Russian interference in Venezuela”, saying that “the Russians have to get out, that remains our view”.
According to him, Washington “wants all other nations out of this country”.
Pompeo added that he is aiming to discuss the issue during upcoming negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Earlier this week, Pompeo and Lavrov spoke by phone about the situation in Venezuela in the wake of a botched coup attempt conducted by the opposition led by Juan Guaido.
According to a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow “indicated that the continuation of aggressive steps is fraught with the most serious consequences. Only the Venezuelan people have the right to determine their destiny, for which dialogue between all political forces in the country is needed, and for which the government has long called for”.
When commenting on the talks, the Russian foreign minister stated that the positions of Moscow and Washington were “incompatible“, adding, however, that the sides had agreed to maintain contacts to discuss the matter.
Two days later, however, Trump called Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, with the US president describing the talks as overall “very positive”. While Trump said that he “feels the same way” with Putin about the “need for positive developments in Venezuela”, his statement appeared to contradict his own senior officials’ strong rhetoric concerning Russia’s “involvement” in the Latin American state in the wake of the arrival of Russian military experts in the country earlier this spring.
While Moscow explained that the visit was fully in line with both international law and bilateral agreements between the countries, US officials have voiced alarm at the move. Particularly, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton warned countries “external to the Western Hemisphere”, including Russia, against deploying military forces in Venezuela, and signalled the US administration’s readiness to apply the Monroe Doctrine in its policy towards Latin America.