As Mike Pompeo prepares to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss the crisis in Venezuela, the US secretary of state said bluntly that President Donald Trump has a “full range” of powers to intervene at will.
Speaking on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday, Pompeo elaborated on the oft-repeated line that “all options are on the table”when it comes to intervening militarily in Venezuela.
“The president has his full range of Article 2 authorities and I’m very confident that any action we took in Venezuela would be lawful,” Pompeo stated when asked if President Trump could intervene in the country’s power struggle without congressional approval. Article 2 of the US Constitution grants the president the right to declare war and act as commander in chief of the country’s armed forces.
Pompeo also warned Russia against supporting its Latin American ally. “The Russians need to get out,” he told ABC.“Every country that is interfering with the Venezuelan people’s right to restore their own democracy needs to leave.”
Pompeo’s bold statement comes ahead of a meeting with Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Finland on Monday. The pair are expected to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela on the sidelines of an Arctic Council meeting in the northern Finnish city of Rovaniemi.
They already spoke by phone on Wednesday, with Pompeo accusing Moscow of meddling in the country by continuing to support embattled President Nicolas Maduro, and Lavrov accusing Washington of wielding “destructive influence” by backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.
An attempted military coup by the Washington-sponsored Guaido fizzled out last week, and Maduro remains in power in Caracas. Despite President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreeing that they “feel the same way” on Venezuela following a phone call on Friday, talk of military action has not abated.
With Russian personnel on the ground in Venezuela since March, National Security Advisor John Bolton issued a stark warning last week: “This is our hemisphere – it’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering.” Later, as Trump and Putin spoke by phone, Bolton met with the rest of Trump’s national security team at the Pentagon to sketch out possible scenarios for military intervention against Maduro.