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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 PompeoTrump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals US condemns arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong MORE, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMajority of Republicans say 2020 election was invalid: poll Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Justice Department renews investigation into George Floyd's death: report 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 MurphyAmazon manager sues company over racial discrimination, harassment allegations Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Minimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster MORE (D-Conn.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineWarner: White House should 'keep open additional sanctions' against Saudi crown prince Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Biden administration to give Congress full classified briefing on Syria strikes by next week MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee 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 TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend 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.