President Donald Trump on Friday again denied the U.S. was behind a bungled coup operation in Venezuela, as he boasted if the U.S. were behind it it would have been an ‘invasion.’
‘I wouldn’t send a small little group. No, no, no. It would be called an army,’ Trump said.
Trump during an interview on Fox News ridiculed the idea he would rely on such a small operation, which undertook an apparent operation to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro that quickly fizzled.
‘If we ever did anything with Venezuela, it wouldn’t be that way. It would be slightly different. It would be called an invasion,’ said President Trump Friday, once again denying any involvement in a botched coup operation in Venezuela
‘I know nothing about it. I think the government has nothing to do with it at all, and I have to find out what happened,’ Trump said.
‘If we ever did anything with Venezuela, it wouldn’t be that way. It would be slightly different. It would be called an invasion,’ Trump continued.
‘We have nothing to do with it,’ Trump told Ainsley Earhardt during an extended call-in on ‘Fox & Friends.’ He told her: ‘If I wanted to go into Venezuela I wouldn’t make a secret about it. I’d go in and they would do nothing about it.’
Trump said the incursion ‘was not a good attack,’ carried out by a ‘rogue group’ that included Venezuelans and ‘people from other countries.’
Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, is seen in a video promoting his company, Silvercorp USA.
Luke Denman, 34, was arrested alongside fellow American Airan Berry, 41, six Venezuelan mercenaries as part of the foiled coup of Venezuela. He appeared on Venezuelan TV on Wednesday speaking about the failed attempt
Goudreau had associations with former Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller (l)
Venezuelan authorities put the arrests on TV
Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, an American citizen and three-time Bronze Star recipient for bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan, is seen in photos from his company’s Instagram page. He runs Silvercorp USA
US President Donald Trump listens to Director of Oval Office Operations Keith Schiller (L) as he prepares to leave after welcoming the Clemson Tigers, the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions, at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 12, 2017
‘I saw the pictures on a beach. It wasn’t led by General George Washington, obviously,’ he said, referring to the first U.S. president, often considered a military genius. ‘This was not a good attack.’
A former U.S. soldier captured in Venezuela has said he was contracted by a Florida security firm to seize control of Caracas’ airport and bring in a plane to fly Maduro to the United States.
According to a document published by the Washington Post on Thursday, members of the country’s opposition party negotiated a $213 million deal with the company, Silvercorp USA, to invade the country and overthrow Maduro.
The group’s leader, former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, has claimed responsibility for masterminding the effort.
He has been pictured providing security for Trump at three of his campaign rallies.
Silvercorp’s Instagram account shows Goudreau working at rallies in Pennsylvania in 2018 in Houston, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina.
It has also emerged that Goudreau struck on the idea of a coup after meeting with Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller, who worked at the Trump Organization and then followed Trump to the White House before returning to private life.
In May, Goudreau went with Schiller to a Miami meeting with Lester Toledo, an aide to opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Schiller also attended a March 2019 meeting at the University Club in Washington with Toledo, the Associated Press reported.
The White House says Schiller cut off all contact with Goudreau after the meeting.
Nevertheless, Schiller’s involvement, even if tenuous and aborted, connects the botched operation to someone who has long been in Trump’s inner circle.
Schiller traveled with Trump extensively before and during his presidential campaign, then followed Trump to the White House. As newly released transcripts reveal, Schiller accompanied Trump to the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 in Moscow.
Venezuela has charged two former US soldiers with terrorism and conspiracy for allegedly taking part in a failed bid to topple President Nicolas Maduro, the attorney general said on Friday.
Luke Alexander Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, were among 17 people captured by the Venezuelan military, which said it had thwarted an attempted invasion by mercenaries in the early hours of Sunday.
Attorney General Tarek William Saab said they had been charged with ‘terrorism, conspiracy, illicit trafficking of weapons of war and (criminal) association,’ and could face 25-30 years in prison.
Eight attackers were reportedly killed in the incident.
Saab said Venezuela had requested an international arrest warrant for the capture of former US army medic Jordan Goudreau, who allegedly organized and trained the mercenary force.
Maduro has accused Trump of being behind the alleged invasion – and Saab said Friday the Venezuelans involved would be tried for ‘conspiracy with a foreign government.’
Venezuela´s chief prosecutor ordered the arrest Friday of Goudreau and two opposition figures living in the U.S. for their purported role in the botched operation.
Venezuela, whose government the U.S. does not recognize, is also seeking Juan José Rendón and Sergio Vergara, two U.S.-based advisers to opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
‘They are living in impunity,’ Saab said. ‘In tranquility over there.’
U.S. law enforcement is investigating Goudreau, though it remains unclear if he will charged.