June 21, 2020
Donald Trump Says He Is Open To Meeting With Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro

In an interview with Axios published on Sunday, President Donald Trump said that he is open to meeting with Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro.

"I would maybe think about that... Maduro would like to meet. And I'm never opposed to meetings -- you know, rarely opposed to meeting," Trump said.

"I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I've turned them down," he added.

The commander-in-chief expressed skepticism about Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's political abilities, stating that he was largely indifferent about him.

"Guaidó was elected. I think that I wasn't necessarily in favor, but I said -- some people that liked it, some people didn't. I was OK with it. I don't think it was -- you know, I don't think it was very meaningful one way or the other."
The U.S. and dozens of other nations backed Guaidó, pushing him to overthrow Maduro. The initiative failed, however, and Maduro is still the leader of the impoverished Latin American country.

In March, the Justice Department charged Maduro with narcoterrorism, referring to him as "former president of Venezuela" and signaling that the U.S. is still backing the opposition.

In 2018, when Guaidó came close to taking power, Trump signaled that he was considering military action against Maduro. According to the publication's sources, Venezuela was a "hotter issue" back then and Trump appears to have lost interest.

Trump has previously suggested that he would be willing to meet with Maduro, which was reportedly a "recurring concern" for some administration officials.

According to one former official, the Venezuelan government repeatedly tried to set up a meeting between the two men. Furthermore, the Venezuelan president has publicly said that he would be willing to meet with Trump.

As Axios noted, in his book, The Room Where It Happened, former National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote about Trump's policy toward Venezuela.

According to Bolton, Trump privately told White House officials that he thought Maduro was a "strong" leader, while Guaidó was "weak."

The president reportedly called Guaidó the "Beto O'Rourke of Venezuela," and blamed Bolton for Guaidó's failure to overthrow Maduro.

As Yahoo News reported earlier this month, Guaidó, who is recognized as interim president of Venezuela by 50 countries, has been labeled a "fugitive from justice" by the Maduro government. However, a formal arrest warrant has not been issued.

It has been rumored that he is hiding in the French embassy in Caracas, but the French foreign ministry denies the accusations.

Trump has been accused of cozying up to authoritarian leaders like Maduro. In early June, Priorities USA, the largest Democratic super PAC, released an advertisement likening the commander-in-chief to Latin American dictators Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.