Rubio Slams WaPo Report Claiming Trump Losing Interest in Venezuela

Florida senator: This is what bureaucratic infighting looks like

Sen. Marco Rubio / Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) hit back Thursday at a Washington Post article reporting that President Donald Trump had lost interest in Venezuela, saying some of the claims were exaggerated or even fabricated.

Rubio, who has been a key White House ally on Latin America policy, came to the White House's defense in a series of tweets, accusing officials of maliciously undercutting National Security Adviser John Bolton and threatening to expose them if they did it again.

The Post reported the summer had arrived with no indication "the Trump administration has a coherent strategy to remove" brutal left-wing dictator Nicolas Maduro, who has clung to power despite calls from the U.S. and dozens of allies to step down after a sham re-election. The South American country's once-mighty economy has collapsed under Maduro's socialist regime, and opposition leader Juan Guaido has been backed by the U.S. as the legitimate president.

The Post quoted anonymous officials saying Trump believed the inability to swiftly remove Maduro reflected poorly on Bolton and his director for Latin American policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone. They also described Trump as having lost patience and interest in the situation.

"Certain officials who dislike Bolton & NSC team use position to leak things designed to damage them," Rubio tweeted. "Some of the things claimed here are wildly exaggerated & others are completely fabricated."

"The truth?" he went on "@potus basically ran MLB out of his office telling them nothing to discuss until Cuba leaves #Venezuela. POTUS has raised Venezuela with me several times this month alone. Next time these fake leaks happen I will out the ‘officials' behind them publicly & by name."

"What is most upsetting is that these leaked lies embolden #Maduro & put opposition leaders in #Venezuela at greater risk of prison or death," Rubio said in a follow-up. "But these officials care more about their personal vendettas."

The Post quoted one anonymous official who pushed back on the narrative that the White House was giving up. The Trump administration has sought to squeeze Maduro and his allies with tough sanctions in a maximum pressure campaign.

"The United States never said that its effort in Venezuela would be limited to one round," the official said. "The administration’s maximum-pressure policy relies upon consistency and discipline to achieve the ultimate goal."

Trump has largely fallen silent on the subject publicly, and he didn't mention Venezuela during private remarks this week to campaign donors in Florida.

Rubio's office didn't respond to a request for comment.