Trump considering recognizing opposition leader as Venezuela's president: report

Trump considering recognizing opposition leader as Venezuela's president: report

The Trump administration is considering recognizing Venezuelan opposition party leader Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate president, CNN reported Tuesday.

Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro began his second term last week, but the Trump administration slammed his inauguration as the "illegitimate result of a stolen election." The State Department has also called for a new government.

The election was boycotted by opposition groups and marred by ballot irregularities. In recent years, Maduro has cracked down on critics of his government amid economic turmoil and rising violence.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to CNN, Trump is considering whether to recognize Guaidó, the president of Venezuela's National Assembly and head of the opposition party, as the country's leader.

National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis declined to comment to The Hill on deliberations regarding Guaidó, but did reaffirm the administration’s support of his effort to call for new elections.

“The United States has expressed its support for Juan Guaido, who as President of the democratically elected National Assembly has courageously declared his constitutional authority to invoke Article 233 and call for free and fair elections,” Marquis said. "The United States supports the National Assembly as the only legitimate democratic entity in Venezuela.”

If the administration follows through, the move would raise pressure on Maduro, whose legitimacy has been questioned by both Republicans and Democrats, as well as by international bodies.

The Organization of American States, a regional bloc, voted last week 19 to 6 to not recognize Maduro's new term. The Trump administration has also levied severe sanctions against Maduro's regime.

Guaidó and the National Assembly have had their role reduced by a parallel governing body packed with Maduro loyalists. Guaidó and the assembly have called for Maduro's impeachment and his replacement by Guaidó, citing the Venezuelan Constitution.

Guaidó says he will invoke Article 233 of the Constitution, which would let him call new elections.

Maduro defended the legitimacy of his presidency during his Saturday inauguration.

"We're a real democracy and I, Nicolas Maduro Moros, I am a truly democratic president," he said in a televised address.

Updated at 1:46 p.m.