Donald Trump at odds with John Bolton after Venezuela coup failure: report

Trump has allegedly been complaining that Bolton may have miscalculated how easy it would be to replace Maduro

Published May 9, 2019 2:35PM (EDT)

John Bolton; Donald Trump (Getty/Salon)
John Bolton; Donald Trump (Getty/Salon)

President Donald Trump's relationship with his national security adviser, John Bolton, appears to be on shaky ground following his administration's failure to oust President Nicolás Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing current and former administration officials.

Trump is beginning to sour on his national security adviser primarily due to Bolton's ultra-hawkish worldview, even though the national security adviser has demonstrated his interventionist stance for decades. Trump, meanwhile, believes the U.S. should stay out of other country's wars. The president has called for an end to the war in Afghanistan and has withdrawn hundreds of U.S. troops from Syria.

The president has also been complaining that Bolton may have miscalculated how easy it would be to replace Maduro, who he reportedly described as a "tough cookie," with Guaidó. Trump now believes Bolton had "boxed him into a corner and one beyond where he is comfortable," the Post wrote, citing a U.S. official familiar with the situation.

Guaidó this past week rallied supporters to join a "military uprising" to oust Maduro, in what he described as the "final phase" of his campaign to remove the socialist leader from power since declaring himself interim president earlier this year.

The White House, which recognizes Guaidó as the country's interim president, hoped the uprising would be "enough to tip" Maduro and lead to a peaceful transition of power — one of the administration's top foreign policy goals.

Guaidó efforts fizzled, however, after he failed to gain support from senior leaders of the military.

"We want as our principle objective the peaceful transfer of power, but I will say again as the president has said from the outset . . . all options are on the table," Bolton told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday when the street protests were underway.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox Business Network last week if military action in Venezuela is required, then "that's what the United States will do," while Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said military intervention in Venezuela "depends on the conditions."

Despite Trump's alleged frustration with his administration's Venezuela strategy, he does not plan to push out Bolton anytime soon and told his national security adviser to continue focusing on matters within the country, two senior administration officials told The Post.

Garrett Marquis, spokesman for the National Security Council, told he Post that Bolton "has repeatedly stated the president's desire for a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela while also ensuring that all options are on the table."

Following his Wednesday night rally in Florida, where some Venezuelans fleeing Maduro have taken refuge, Trump tweeted, "America stands with the GREAT PEOPLE of Venezuela for however long it takes!"

By Shira Tarlo

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