US President Donald Trump pressed his top military aides about whether he could invade Venezuela during an Oval Office discussion last year.
His inquiry came during a discussion about imposing sanctions on the South American country as it was roiled by political and economic crises, according to a report on Wednesday.
According to the New York Post, the suggestion stunned the aides, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster — both of whom are no longer with the Trump administration — and sparked a heated debate for about five minutes last August, the Associated Press reported.
General McMaster was among the advisers who explained that any military action could backfire and threaten the support the US built up with other Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for jailing opponents and consolidating power in an effort to establish a dictatorship.
Despite the arguments against, Mr Trump persisted and brought up the successful use of the US military to invade Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.
Although the US President gave no indication he was about to call up the military, the idea appeared to remain in his head.
The next day, on August 11, Mr Trump floated the idea that he would use a “military option” to solve the escalating unrest in Venezuela that threatened security in the area.
“We are all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away,” the president said. “Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”