Democratic senators demand answers on US involvement in foiled Venezuela plot

Democratic senators demand answers on US involvement in foiled Venezuela plot
© Bonnie Cash

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday called on Trump administration officials to share information about a foiled military operation against the ruling Venezuelan government that involved two American citizens.

Venezuelan authorities over the weekend released photos showing the arrest of two American citizens allegedly involved in an attempted coup against embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that was launched by military defectors.

One of the Americans, Jordan Goudreau, is a former U.S. Army Green Beret and founder of the private security firm Silvercorp USA.

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In a letter Thursday to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoRepublican lawmakers raise security, privacy concerns over Huawei cloud services WashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability MORE, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump pushes back on book claims, says he spent 'virtually no time' discussing election with Lee, Graham Woodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China Barr-Durham investigation again fails to produce a main event MORE and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, the senators demanded information on whether the U.S. provided any assistance to the foiled attack.

“Either the U.S. government was unaware of these planned operations, or was aware and allowed them to proceed. Both possibilities are problematic,” Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' MORE (D-Conn.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KainePanic begins to creep into Democratic talks on Biden agenda Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallTom UdallOvernight Defense: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iran strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military at least partially vaccinated Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin MORE (D-N.M.) wrote.

They demanded information on American policy toward Venezuela, saying support of a military operation is in violation of the VERDAD Act, signed into law in December, that states U.S. policy is to engage diplomatically to advance a negotiated solution to Venezuela’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis.

“Armed raids, even if they are carried out by independent actors, run counter to that policy,” the senators wrote. “Moreover, such incursions harm the prospects for a peaceful democratic transition in Venezuela by insinuating that an armed intervention is a viable option to resolve the crisis, potentially undermining the willingness of hardline opposition actors to negotiate, while simultaneously allowing Maduro to rally support to his side, strengthening his hand.”

Pompeo has echoed statements by President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE and senior administration officials that the U.S. government had no direct involvement in the operation.

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“If we had been involved, it would have gone differently,” Pompeo said Wednesday in a briefing with reporters.

The secretary said he is prepared to release information at an appropriate time about “who bankrolled” the operation.

The U.S. considers Maduro’s leadership as illegitimate and backs the opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Pompeo in March unveiled a “pathway to democracy” for Venezuela for Maduro to step aside in favor of new, general elections.