National security adviser John Bolton said Monday that Trump believes “all options are on the table” when it comes to Venezuela, including military action. When asked at a press conference whether Trump would consider sending military forces to help topple dictator Nicolás Maduro, Bolton replied that “the president has made it very clear [...] that all options are on the table.” Bolton’s comments come as the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on Venezuela, in another attempt to weaken Maduro and bolster opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
The sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, target Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), a state-owned oil company that Mnuchin called a “vehicle for embezzlement” for Maduro’s regime. “The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela’s tragic decline,” Mnuchin said, “and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim President Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan peoples’ efforts to restore their democracy.” To lift the sanctions, Mnuchin said, Maduro must transfer control of PdVSA to either Guaidó or another democratically elected leader.
In the minutes after the announcement, a few eagle-eyed reporters spotted cryptic scribblings on the notebook Bolton was holding, which appear to say “Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks,” and “5,000 troops to Colombia.” When asked about Bolton's notes, a White House spokesman reportedly said, “As the President has said, all options are on the table.”