President Trump rebuffed the offer of a phone call from the president of Venezuela late Friday night, after Mr. Trump warned that he is considering military options to address civil and political unrest in the South American country.
“President Trump will gladly speak with the leader of Venezuela as soon as democracy is restored in that country,” the White House said.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro requested a phone call with Mr. Trump after Mr. Trump made a surprise statement late Friday that he’s considering unspecified military action to address what the administration is calling a “dictatorship.”
“Since the start of this administration, President Trump has asked that Maduro respect Venezuela’s constitution, hold free and fair elections, release political prisoners, cease all human rights violations, and stop oppressing Venezuela’s great people,” the White House said. “The Maduro regime has refused to heed this call, which has been echoed around the region and the world. Instead Maduro has chosen the path of dictatorship.”
The statement said the U.S. “stands with the people of Venezuela in the face of their continued oppression by the Maduro regime.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, blasted Mr. Trump’s warning.
“No. Congress obviously isn’t authorizing war in Venezuela,” Mr. Sasse said. “Nicolas Maduro is a horrible human being, but Congress doesn’t vote to spill Nebraskans’ blood based on who the Executive lashes out at today.”