President Donald Trump on Friday reiterated that the United States government was not behind a bungled incursion into Venezuela this week, allegedly to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, saying in a Fox News channel interview that he would not rely on a small group for such an operation.
“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.”
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Trump said the incursion “was not a good attack,” carried out by a “rogue group” that included Venezuelans and “people from other countries”.
“I saw the pictures on a beach. It wasn’t led by General George Washington, obviously,” he said, referring to the first US president, often considered a military genius.
A former US soldier captured in Venezuela has said he was contracted by a Florida security firm to seize control of Caracas’s airport and bring in a plane to fly Maduro to the US. According to a document published by the Washington Post on Thursday, members of the country’s opposition parties negotiated a $213m deal with the company, Silvercorp USA, to invade the country and overthrow Maduro.
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Tarek Saab said on Friday his office had requested detention and extradition orders of US military veteran Jordan Goudreau and two Venezuelans accused of involvement.
Saab accused Goudreau and the two opposition Venezuelan politicians, Miami-based political strategist Juan Rendon and exiled legislator Sergio Vergara, of being involved in the “design, financing and execution” of the plan to invade and overthrow Maduro.
Goudreau, chief executive of the Florida-based security company Silvercorp USA, has claimed responsibility for the plan, which left eight people dead and more than a dozen in custody, including two US citizens accompanying the dissident Venezuelan security forces.
Rendon has said that while he negotiated an agreement with Silvercorp late last year, he cut ties with Goudreau in November and that Goudreau went forward with the failed operation on his own. Vergara did not immediately respond to a request for comment.