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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration has announced sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, in an attempt to undercut Nicolás Maduro's regime and boost his rival for power, National Assembly President Juan Guaidó.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is using all economic and diplomatic levers at its disposal in a push for regime change in Venezuela. The White House is hoping that if it deprives Maduro of cash, the Venezuelan military will have no reason to stay loyal to him. A source briefed told me: "The implications are huge because it will be difficult for Maduro to find another refiner of Venezuelan oil with any speed to keep cash flowing."

The latest: National Security Adviser John Bolton made the announcement in the White House briefing room on Monday afternoon alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin:

"We have continued to expose the corruption of Maduro and his cronies, and today's action ensures they can no longer loot the assets of the Venezuelan people. We expect... that today's measure totals $7 billion in assets blocked today plus over $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year. We also today call on the Venezuelan military and security forces to accept the peaceful democratic and constitutional transfer of power."

Between the lines: More than 20 countries have followed the U.S. in recognizing Guaidó as interim president, due to his status as the highest-ranking official to have won a free election. Maduro has portrayed the situation as a U.S. effort to intervene in Venezuela. There had been concerns that sanctioning Venezuela's oil exports would both strengthen that argument, and deepen the economic crisis.

The economic impact, per the AP:

  • "Venezuelan oil exports to the U.S. have declined steadily over the years. ... Still, Venezuela has consistently been the third- or fourth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, and any disruption of imports could be costly for refiners. In 2017, the most recent year that data were available, Venezuela accounted for about 6% of U.S. crude imports."
  • "Venezuela is very reliant on the U.S. for its oil revenue. The country sends 41% of its oil exports to the U.S. Critically, U.S. refiners are among the few customers that pay cash to Venezuela for its oil. That's because Venezuela's oil shipments to China and Russia are usually taken as repayment for billions of dollars in debts."

Sen. Marco Rubio, who has taken a hawkish stance on Venezuela and played a key role in the Trump administration's policy, said: "The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders. The oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and therefore the money PDVSA earns from its export will now be returned to the people through their legitimate constitutional government.”

What to watch: Bolton reiterated today that military force is possible, saying: "The president has made it very clear on this matter that all options are on the table." He also said the U.S. is "now as prepared as we can be" to protect diplomats in Caracas. The State Department has moved some personnel out of the country, but not complied with Maduro's demand that they all leave the country.

Go deeper: Trump mused about "military option" in Venezuela with Graham

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
18 mins ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/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. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”