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Alex Brandon / AP

The Trump administration is slapping sanctions on 13 "current and former Venezuelan officials associated with the Nicolas Maduro regime" in Venezuela who have been involved with corruption, human rights abuses, or those who are degrading order in Venezuela, senior administration officials told reporters Wednesday.

If carried out, this would fall under an already existing executive order.

Motivation: The U.S. is trying to discourage Maduro from establishing a national constituent assembly on Sunday, which Venezuela's majority-backed opposition opposes as well. Critics say the assembly would secure his role as dictator of the country, per Reuters.

One senior administration official said, "in short [Maduro] has ignored the Venezuelan constitution and the will of its people" since it is "designed to undermine Venezuelan democracy and designed to undermine Venezuelan people's role in deciding the future of their country." The U.S. is prepared to sanction anyone who decides to join the assembly as well.

About oil: Sanctioning crude oil could impact U.S. gasoline prices and worsen the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, per Bloomberg, but the senior U.S. administration officials said they haven't come to a conclusion about how to move forward on whether to involve oil. One official said, "all options are on the table, we have not made a decision..." One of those sanctioned includes the vice president of finance for the national oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Context: This news comes as a 48 hour strike begins in Venezuela in opposition to the plans to establish the assembly. There have been nearly daily anti-government protests throughout Venezuela amidst shortages of medicine and food, and more than 100 people have been killed in violence since protests began this April.

The U.S. has already imposed sanctions on Venezuela, including on the chief judge and seven other members of Venezuela's Supreme Court as a response to their decision to cancel the opposition-led Congress this year. The U.S. has also sanctioned the country's vice president.

Go deeper

38 mins ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

46 mins ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.