The first thing the president said at the dinner

Trump loves surprises:

As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?

Huh? Huh? Why cannit?

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration. This account of the previously undisclosed conversation, as reported by The Associated Press, comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said.

In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Mr. Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship, according to the official. The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

But Mr. Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.

Plus he’s seen all these movies where a quick little invasion was just the ticket.

He went on talking about it, but his people tried to convince themselves it was just his fun. Then he talked about it to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Then in September, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Trump discussed it again, this time at greater length, in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos, the same three people said and Politico reported in February.

The U.S. official said Mr. Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn’t play well, but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, “My staff told me not to say this.”

So of course he said it, because listen up, everybody, he is the boss, and those other people are just His Staff, and he can say whatever he wants to.

Mr. Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a military solution, according to the official, who added that each leader told Mr. Trump in clear terms they were sure.

Eventually, McMaster would pull aside the president and walk him through the dangers of an invasion, the official said.

And give him his bottle and put him to bed.

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