Is the Trump Administration Involved In the Unrest In Venezuela?

Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is planning to refer Trump ally Erik Prince to the Department of Justice for lying to Congress.

Among other things, Schiff pointed to a meeting that took place nine days before Trump took office between Prince and a Russian financier close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in the Seychelles islands.

Prince later told congressional officials examining Russia’s interference in the presidential election that the meeting happened by chance and was not taken at the behest of the incoming administration — testimony that congressional Democrats now think was false…

“We know from the Mueller report that that was not a chance meeting,” Schiff told Post reporter Robert Costa during an interview at the event. “We know there were communications after he returned.”

That meeting is one of the examples of potential criminal conspiracy that Mueller was unable to probe because evidence was either deleted or encrypted on communication devices.

Meanwhile, Erik Prince is in the news for something else.

Erik Prince – the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump – has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, four sources with knowledge of the effort told Reuters…

One of Prince’s key arguments, one source said, is that Venezuela needs what Prince calls a “dynamic event” to break the stalemate that has existed since January, when Guaido – the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly – declared Maduro’s 2018 re-election illegitimate and invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency.

Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that that story broke on the same day that a “dynamic event” seems to be underway in Venezuela.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Tuesday made his strongest call yet to the military to help him oust President Nicolas Maduro, and violence broke out at anti-government protests as the country hit a new crisis point after years of political and economic chaos…

Guaido, in Twitter posts, wrote that he had begun the “final phase” of his campaign to topple Maduro, calling on Venezuelans and the armed forces to back him ahead of May Day mass street protests planned for Wednesday.

“The moment is now!” he wrote. “The future is ours: the people and Armed Forces united to put an end” to Maduro’s time in office.

Speaking to reporters, National Security Advisor John Bolton referred to what is happening in Venezuela as a “dispositive moment” and called on that country’s leaders to help bring military forces to the side of Juan Guaido. During those remarks, Bolton blamed Cuba and Russia for intervening to prop up Maduro.

Forgive me for a moment if I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu. But as the saying goes, I’m old enough to remember when the United States was involved in several “regime changes” in Latin America as a proxy for the Cold War. Attempts to justify those operations relied on blaming Russia (and occasionally Cuba) for interference in what were actually attempts to secure resources for American corporate interests. As I said… déjà vu.

Because this president has strained his relationships with what he calls the “deep state,” it is probably not possible for him to employ covert CIA operations to carry out support for regime change in Venezuela, as his predecessors did in the past. That’s where a mercenary like Erik Prince comes into play. Since he blatantly lied to Congress about his meeting in the Seychelles islands, it is difficult to believe what his spokesman said when he denied any “plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela.”

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.