President Donald Trump. Photo: Cheriss May / NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Trump on Monday signed an executive order prohibiting U.S. citizens from buying Venezuela's newly created 'Petro' cryptocurrency, and a senior administration official says the White House is mulling additional sanctions on the country.

The backdrop: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose tenure has been marked by swelling authoritarianism and economic chaos, is seeking re-election in May. These sanctions are part of U.S. efforts to punish his regime. Maduro's government launched the world's first state-issued cryptocurrency last month in hopes of boosting its plunging economy and circumventing U.S. and European financial sanctions.

The details:

  • A senior administration official told reporters during a background call that the ban, which goes into effect immediately, will have "minimal impact" on ordinary Venezuelans.
  • The Trump administration, he added, is "actively considering" sanctions on crude oil exports to the country and will soon determine specific actions and "the best timing" to maximize their effect.

In a separate move, the administration slapped sanctions on four current and former senior Venezuelan officials accused of corruption and mismanagement.

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Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

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