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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTreasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities Navalny released from hospital after suspected poisoning Overnight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers MORE, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrHarris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars McCarthy threatens motion to oust Pelosi if she moves forward with impeachment 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 MurphyDemocratic senator calls for 'more flexible' medical supply chain to counter pandemics The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon GOP chairman to release interim report on Biden probe 'in about a week' MORE (D-Conn.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats call for declassifying election threats after briefing by Trump officials Buttigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Trump meets with potential Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett at White House MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallLWCF modernization: Restoring the promise OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency 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 John TrumpBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Romney: 'Unthinkable and unacceptable' to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests 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.