Pompeo says Russians convinced Venezuela's Maduro not to flee
Pro-Guaidó protestors run as tear gas is fired in Caracas. Photo: Rafael Briceno/Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on CNN that the U.S. understands that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a "plane on the tarmac" during today's opposition-led uprising, but that "the Russians indicated he should stay."
Context: Pompeo said Maduro "was headed for Havana" before being convinced by the Russians to stay in Caracas. Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela's legitimate leader, called on the military this morning to rise up and topple Maduro. There were clashes in Caracas, but Maduro remains in power as nightfall approaches.
This is the highest U.S. rhetoric has climbed during the three-month power struggle between Maduro and Guaidó.
- President Trump targeted Cuba in a tweet this afternoon, threatening a "full and complete embargo" on the island if Cuban troops continue to support Maduro.
- Earlier this afternoon, national security adviser John Bolton named individual leaders in the Maduro regime, calling on them to defect.
- Pompeo would not say whether Trump had directly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent Russian troops to Venezuela last month, to stop supporting the regime.
The other side: In a televised address Tuesday night, Maduro denied he'd planned to leave Venezuela.