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Trump: 'I'm not going to rule out a military option' in Venezuela

  • President Donald Trump says he will not rule out a "military option" to respond to the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
  • The Trump administration has issues sanctions against Maduro and others, accusing them of abusing human rights and undermining democratic processes.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he would not rule out a "military option" in Venezuela as the ruling regime there consolidates power.

"We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary," Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club on Friday.

The president did not answer a question about whether American troops would lead a potential operation.

"We don't talk about it. But a military operation, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue," he responded.

Reuters reported later Friday that the Pentagon said the White House hadn't given it any orders on Venezuela.

In response, Venezuela's defense minister said that Trump's threat of military intervention was "a crazy act."

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro had requested a phone call with Trump, the White House said. Trump, according to an administration statement, will gladly speak with the nation's leader when democracy has been restored in the country.

The Trump administration has issued sanctions against Maduro, whom it calls a "dictator," and more than two dozen other former and current officials. The U.S. accuses Maduro's regime of violating human rights and subverting democratic processes.

Trump's comment about possible military action comes after a week of the president escalating rhetoric against the isolated regime in North Korea, which is pushing forward with nuclear and missile programs in the face of international opposition. On Friday morning, Trump said "military solutions are now in place" should "North Korea act unwisely."

The international community has recently condemned Maduro's moves to consolidate power. He has been accused of setting up a powerful constitutional assembly to push aside opposition.

In an address to that assembly, Maduro expressed a desire to have a dialogue with Trump.

"Mr. Donald Trump, here is my hand," he said.

Venezuela's political turmoil comes as its economy has been battered by both low oil prices and policy.

— Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report