Bolton: 'No US government involvement' in attempted drone assassination of Venezuelan President Maduro

The United States had "no involvement" in the apparent drone assassination attempt of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday afternoon, National Security Adviser John Bolton told "Fox News Sunday."

Several dronelike devices armed with explosives reportedly detonated near Maduro during his appearance in the capital of Caracas, where he was giving a speech at a military event. Dramatic footage from the episode showed Maduro and those around him wincing as apparent explosions sounded, sending soldiers nearby scattering. Unverified amateur video from the event seemed to show at least one drone blowing up in mid-air.

Maduro claimed factions in Venezuela had worked with conspirators in Bogota and Miami to kill him, and said he hoped President Trump is "willing to fight the terrorist groups." Attorney General Tarek William Saab said the apparent attempted assassination targeted not only Maduro, but rather the military's entire high command on stage with the president.

But Bolton strongly denied the suggestion that the White House had anything to do with the effort.

"I can say unequivocally there was no U.S. government involvement in this at all," Bolton told host Chris Wallace. "If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of U.S. criminal law, we’ll take a serious look at it, but in the meantime I think what we really should focus on is the corruption and oppression in the Maduro regime in Venezuela."


Timothy Bean, the CEO of Fortem Technologies, which sells drone-detecting radar and counter-drones capable of taking down unmanned flying craft, told Fox News the Venezuela attack could have been attempted by a range of actors.

"Because of the ubiquitous nature of drones, it is not necessary for bad actors, like those who carried out the attack attempt in Venezuela, to have a great deal of funding and tech know how," Bean said. "The technology is very accessible, which is why the threat and underlying need for safety and security measures at this time are so paramount."

Bean added that the threat to heads of state is ongoing, saying, "Now, more than ever, there is a need for partnership between government and private sector technology leaders to put safeguards in place to protect sensitive airspace from drone threats in the future. This danger is not going away."

"This danger is not going away."

— Fortem Technologies CEO Timothy Bean

Trump had reportedly asked aides at an Oval Office meeting last August whether the U.S. should invade Venezuela, as the socialist country's economic, legal, and political conditions countinued to unravel.

The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.

Venezuela's government routinely accuses opposition activists of plotting to attack and overthrow Maduro, a deeply unpopular leader who was recently elected to a new term in office in a vote decried by dozens of nations.

Maduro has steadily moved to concentrate power as the nation reels from a crippling economic crisis. In the midst of near-daily protests last year, a rogue police officer flew a stolen helicopter over the capital and launched grenades at several government buildings. Oscar Perez was later killed in a deadly gun battle after more than six months on the lam.

Separately, Bolton defended President Trump's tweet earlier in the day, which accused "fake news" sources of potentially causing "war."

The national security adviser also backed the president's complaints about a "Russian hoax," saying Trump is attacking not the idea of Russian election meddling, but suggestions that his campaign was part of a broader conspiracy.

"I think what he’s saying by the hoax is the idea that somehow the Russians directed and controlled his campaign or controlled his administration -- that there was some conspiracy that violated U.S. law," Bolton said.

Fox News' Jeffrey Rubin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.