In a dramatic opening nobody expected, President Trump told Axios in an Oval Office interview last Friday that he would “maybe think about” a face-to-face meeting with Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro to discuss to future of the embattled Latin American country.
“I would maybe think about that… Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings,” Trump said when pressed on the matter. “I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I’ve turned them down,” he added.
Maduro responded Monday, saying he’s “prepared” to talk to Trump. “When the time comes I’m prepared to speak respectfully with President Donald Trump,” Maduro told state media.
This set off a political firestorm, with the Biden campaign seizing to moment to portray Trump as “weak” on Venezuela, targeting the Miami area with political ads to that effect.
“News of President Donald Trump’s willingness to meet some day with embattled Venezuelan ruler Nicolás Maduro is coming to the AM radio dial in Miami. And to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube,” Miami Herald reports Tuesday.
“We’ve known for some time that Donald Trump is no friend to the Venezuelan people fighting for human rights and democracy in their country, and now there can be no doubt,” the Biden campaign announced in a statement. “This is deeply personal to all those in South Florida who have fled to the United States from the brutal Maduro regime, and this November, Floridians are going to hold Trump accountable for his behavior toward the Venezuelan people and elect Joe Biden.”
Perhaps backtracking on the Axios interview, or at least sensing he needed to clarify based on the growing Biden campaign pressure in Florida, Trump tweeted Monday in follow-up: “My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!“
Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela. My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2020
Of course, the admin does indeed have a record of covert coup attempts targeting the socialist country, not to mention bestowing official recognition on opposition leader Juan Guaido as ‘Interim President’.
Trump has also long discussed a naval blockade on the country to ensure no sanctions busting, however, his admirals and generals have reportedly balked, citing the practical difficulty of such an effort, not to mention the potential of getting dragged into a new war in America’s ‘backyard’ with little in the way of defined end goals.
But given the controversy over the possibility of a Trump-Maduro meeting, a remote scenario at this point, nothing is likely to materialize ahead of November, given the political sensitivity especially in the key battleground state of Florida.
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