Donald Trump Says U.S. Underestimated Venezuela’s ‘Tough Cookie’ Nicolas Maduro: Report

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Above Photo: President Donald Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton leave the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, June 9, 2018. Trump is reportedly frustrated by Bolton’s handling of the Venezuela crisis.LARS HAGBERG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

President Donald Trump reportedly described Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro as a “tough cookie” and believes his administration underestimated the socialist leader, who held on to power in the face of an uprising against his regime in Caracas.

According to The Washington Post, citing administration officials, Trump was unhappy with National Security Adviser John Bolton’s handling of the Venezuela crisis, half-joking that the hawkish, interventionist former U.N. ambassador wanted to get him into a war.

Last week, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó failed in his attempt to oust Maduro. Guaidó led a group of rebels from the military and protesters who had flooded the streets in Caracas in what he described as the final phase of Maduro’s overthrow.

But the senior military leadership remained loyal to Maduro, and Guaidó’s plot dissipated, with his allies facing recriminations for supposed treason. Maduro’s security forces clashed violently with anti-regime protesters in the aftermath of what he called a U.S.-backed coup.

Guaidó, who led Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself the country’s interim president in January. He said the elections won by Maduro were a sham, a position with which much of the international community agreed, and was pledging new elections if the regime fell. The U.S. and other Western powers recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president and urged Maduro to make way.

During Guaidó’s abortive attempt to topple Maduro, Bolton made it clear that U.S. military support for the uprising was an option on the table, though he said the administration wanted a peaceful transition of power led by defections from the regime to the opposition.

Bolton also claimed three senior officials in the regime—Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maikel Moreno and Presidential Guard Commander Hernandez Dala—were ready to shun Maduro. But they remained publicly loyal to him.

Moreover, Bolton claimed Maduro was on the cusp of fleeing during the uprising, but he stayed put on the advice of Russia, which had sent troops and financial aid to the regime. Washington has sanctioned the regime and transferred control of its U.S. accounts to Guaidó.

The Post reported that, while Bolton’s job was safe, Trump felt boxed in by his adviser’s assertive stance on Venezuela, which included taunting Maduro on Twitter about “a long, quiet retirement, living on a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela,” in January.

The president has pitched himself as a noninterventionist, preferring to focus on domestic issues over foreign adventurism unless absolutely necessary. But Bolton’s actions raised the stakes and expectations over crisis-stricken Venezuela.

Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman, said in a statement: “Amb. 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.”

  • WayneCha

    Of course, Bolton would like nothing more than to involve military action there in Venezuela, preferably through a civil war. That ain’t happening since the majority of people there either support Maduro or at the very least oppose Guaido and the imperialistic takeover that he represents. I’ve heard that soldiers there were tricked into attempting to release a lot of prisoners who would do the fighting for the opposition, but they realized they were being duped and refused to take part in the coup. My focus now is on the Venezuelan Embassy since it’s being protected by activists who are trying to prevent the opposition from establishing a faux government there. I wish them well, but I wish more Americans were aware of the propaganda the mainstream media and our own government is pushing so those activists would receive widespread support.

  • Infarction

    The list of Trump’s character defects is endless, but one thing for sure is that he has a strong and pronounced self-preservation instinct. Unless Trump can make a profit from Bolton and Pompeo’s warmongering in Venezuela and Iran and elsewhere, he is likely to unseat these two morons before things too ugly.

    At least I hope so. That said, the other problem for Trump could be that he fears the Deep State and the war profiteers might arrange an unfortunate accident to befall him if he doesn’t conform to their agenda of eternal wars.

  • D Turgeon

    Lord, not another anti-Bolivarian article in disguise, on what is purported to be a ‘progressive’ web site:

    “Flooded the streets in Caracas” with “anti-regime protesters”? Not from the photos and videos I saw of the event. More a rag-tag group of violent coup supporters.

    “Much of the international community agreed” that the Venezuelan elections were “a sham”? Not when 2/3 of the world’s governments disagreed with the U.S. and other western government’s charade. Those same western governments “urged Maduro to make way”, only since their direct assassination attempts proved unsuccessful.

    Apparently, the author thinks the attempted coup planned and led by the U.S. is an “uprising” (who knew?), and Bolton “claimed” rather than lied about Maduro’s reaction to the attempted coup.

    And of course, Venezuela is “crisis-stricken”, rather than the victim of U.S. and Canadian violence. After all, the U.S. didn’t steal Venezuelan assets, it merely “transferred control” over them, to whom other than the coup plotters.

    And by all means, let’s close the article with a nice, tidy, unchallenged statement from an NSC toady. Brilliant.

  • Neville

    How many countries agreed with the removal of Maduro much like their attempted removal of the President of Syria , are our countries much like puppets dangling on US State Dept strings that control our destiny ?

  • Jon

    None of us voted for Bolton, Abrams or Pompeo. Worst of the worst.

  • emernel

    They will do a “Kennedy” on him and he knows it, so he will conform to the deep states demands.

  • mwildfire

    But this is a Washington Post piece, what do you expect? They probably ran it here for the part about how Trump is acknowledging the failure of their coup so far.

  • mwildfire

    That’s what I figure–they told him he had to have Bolton and Pompeo, and he doesn’t care about the damage to Venezuela and Iran, but he would rather be noninterventionist, and especially dislikes the embarrassing sequence of events re Venezuela, so a little public disparagement is far as he dares go.

  • D Turgeon

    Agreed: typical ‘Liesweek’ garbage. Why PR runs this stuff without editorial correction is beyond me.

  • D Turgeon


  • D Turgeon

    Okay, but half the country voted for Tronald Dump, which is the same thing.

  • mwildfire

    Usually they do offer such editorial notes–maybe they thought it wasn’t necessary here as they’ve been covering this story so steadily. But PR is also Kevin and Margaret, and they are inside the embassy, where the power has been cut off…it may be difficult for them to keep up.

  • chetdude

    In fact, a majority voted AGAINST Donald Trump in 2018…

    And they call Venezuela a “dictatorship”???

  • chetdude

    Actually, LESS than half of the voters voted for Trump…

    And yet the corporate media pretends that USAmerica is a “democracy” while pimping for a coup against a country that recently HAD a certified, democratic election.

  • D Turgeon

    Okay: slightly less than half the voters voted for Trump. Clearly, whether Clinton or Trump, a majority of U.S. voters are happy with the prospect of the dictatorship of the Republicrats.

  • chetdude

    I’d say the majority said “F*ck You!” to the entire Duopoly — the One Big Party with two-right-wings.

    Some held their noses and voted against Trump anyway and some held their noses and voted against Hillary but most are sick of not having any real choice.

    That’s why I still hold on to the hope that a real Progressive is nominated next year for that majority to vote FOR…

  • D Turgeon

    Yeah, counting all the nose-holders, I guess you’re right.

  • chetdude

    We’ll see.

    We have another even better chance over the next year…

  • D Turgeon

    Big fight, methinks, in what passes for Trump’s brain: going along with Bolton/Pompeo to appease Adelson and his other sugar-daddies, or following his own instincts to not be a “loser” President caught up in un-winnable, foreign debacles. My guess is the money will win, as it has so far, and we’ll all be lucky to avoid the apocalypse.