Venezuelan opposition leader expected to attend State of the Union

Venezuelan opposition leader expected to attend State of the Union
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE will welcome Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as a guest at Tuesday night's State of the Union address, according to multiple reports.

Guaidó's attendance, first reported by Bloomberg News, would mark the first in-person meeting between Trump and the opposition leader. It also would provide a significant platform for Guaidó, recognized by the U.S. and numerous allies as the rightful leader of Venezuela over embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tweeted that he was "excited to see" Guaidó and thanked Trump for his commitment to the people of Venezuela.

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The White House declined to comment.

Guaidó was in Miami for a rally last weekend while Trump was at his nearby Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Fla., but the president did not make an appearance, leading to disappointment for those seeking a symbolic show of unity with the opposition leader.

The State of the Union invite is likely to draw bipartisan applause given the widespread support for Guaidó and opposition to Maduro. 

Venezuelans have been grappling with dire humanitarian and economic conditions in recent years under Maduro's rule, and the U.S. last year threw its support behind Guaidó. The administration has also imposed numerous sanctions on Maduro to pressure him to give up power.

Guaidó will be one of two guests the White House invited from Venezuela, an indication the country will play a significant role in the foreign policy portion of Trump's speech before a joint session of Congress.

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The White House earlier announced it would host Ivan Simonovis, a dissident and former Venezuelan security official who fled house arrest in Caracas last year.

Simonovis was a political prisoner under former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and under Maduro. He escaped house arrest and fled the country during the disturbances that led to Guaidó's recognition as the legitimate president of Venezuela by the United States.

Trump has regularly pointed to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as a warning against embracing socialism. Should he make similar remarks on Tuesday night, they will come with the added context of progressive Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill Democratic senators want probe into change of national stockpile description Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE (D-Mass.) hovering near the top of most polls in the Democratic presidential primary.