AP: US likely to sanction Venezuela over 'sham' election

AP: US likely to sanction Venezuela over 'sham' election
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President Trump could impose new sanctions on Venezuela as early as Monday in response to an election that his administration views as fraudulent, The Associated Press reports.

Administration officials told the news wire that the penalties would likely target the state's oil sector, and even more narrowly Venezuela's state-owned petroleum company.

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The report comes after the Treasury Department targeted 13 current and former Venezuelan government officials with economic sanctions last week, a response by the administration to what it perceived as a power grab by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

One official told the AP that an announcement of the new penalties is imminent after the Venezuelan government claimed 8 million people voted to create an assembly that will change the state's constitution, giving Maduro’s party the opportunity to shape the political system to further secure power.  

Independent analysts say the voter turnout figure was likely half of what the government claims, the AP reported.

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday the U.S. would not recognize the results of the "sham election."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. will take "strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela."

“The United States stands by the people of Venezuela, and their constitutional representatives, in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy,” Nauert said in a statement after Sunday's election.

“We will continue to take strong and swift actions against the architects of authoritarianism in Venezuela, including those who participate in the National Constituent Assembly as a result of today's flawed election.” 

The election took place after civil unrest and protests against Maduro gained momentum in the country.