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Juan Guaidó (R) with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro today in Brasilia. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Five days on from what some hoped would be a decisive moment in Venezuela’s power struggle, Nicolás Maduro remains in power and National Assembly President Juan Guaidó remains outside Venezuela’s borders.

What to watch: Guaidó says he will return to Caracas this weekend despite fears he might be arrested for orchestrating the showdown at the border last Saturday. Jailing Guaidó would cross a U.S. red line and raise the risk of military confrontation.

Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group, recently met with allies of both Maduro and Guaidó in Venezuela. He says there’s a sense among more pragmatic actors that Trump’s forceful demands could make it harder to enter negotiations.

  • According to Malley, some close to the regime could potentially support early elections or a unity government. But they would not accept an outcome in which Guaidó simply assumes the presidency, as the U.S. is demanding. “They see him as a tool of a foreign power,” Malley says.
  • Keeping his hold on power amid the standoff allows Maduro to argue he has won, and that the opposition is responsible for inflicting suffering by backing sanctions, Malley adds.
  • “A protracted crisis does not lend itself to solutions,” he says. As for claims Maduro's support will evaporate as he runs out of hard currency, Malley argues "he will still have the ability to buy the right people off. … They have learned the art of survival. And they are continuing to learn it.”

What’s next: Malley says that “walking around Caracas, you don’t get the feeling this is a government walking on eggshells, believing a military intervention is imminent.” The regime may actually become emboldened, sensing that risk is fading. That presents another risk: miscalculation.

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.