The Latest: Senator wary of US military role in Venezuela

WASHINGTON — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Latin American (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is throwing cold water on President Donald Trump’s statement that he’s not ruling out a “military option” to help resolve the political crisis in Venezuela.

Here’s what South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham thinks: “I have no idea why we would use military force in Venezuela.”

Graham says he’s “a pretty hawkish guy” and knows why American troops are in places like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, South Korea and Europe.

But Venezuela?

He says: “I’m open-minded to a reason, but at the end of the day, our military should be deployed when there’s a national security interest that can be articulated to the American people. I don’t see one in Venezuela in terms of the military force.”


12 p.m.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo (pahm-PAY’-oh) says that when President Donald Trump raised the prospect of possible U.S. military action in Venezuela, he was trying “to give the Venezuelan people hope and opportunity to create a situation where democracy can be restored.”

Pompeo says Venezuela “could very much become a risk” to the U.S. if it descends into further chaos.

The CIA chief tells “Fox News Sunday” that “the Cubans are there. The Russians are there. The Iranians, Hezbollah are there. This is something that has a risk of getting to a very, very bad place. And so, America needs to take this very seriously.”


10:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser is defending the president’s statement that he’s not ruling out a “military option” to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela.

H.R. McMaster says Trump has asked his team to consider what might happen next in Venezuela.

McMaster says officials “want to not only be able to cope with the current situation, but understand better how this crisis might evolve.”

He says the U.S. wants to protect the Venezuelan people and “prevent an even greater humanitarian catastrophe.”

McMaster tells ABC’s “This Week” that Trump “never takes options off the table in any of these situations and what we owe him are options.”


7:45 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is set to visit Latin America at a time of unrest in Venezuela.

Pence plans to meet with Colombia’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, later Sunday at the start of a weeklong trip likely to be dominated by conversations about the crisis in Venezuela.

Colombia’s Foreign Ministry has rejected President Donald Trump’s statement that he wouldn’t rule out a “military option” in response to the Venezuelan government’s attempt to consolidate power.

The Colombian statement said efforts to resolve Venezuela’s breakdown in democracy should be peaceful and respect its sovereignty.

Pence’s schedule also includes stops in Argentina, Chile and Panama.

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