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Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Monday that he would only meet with Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro "to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power."

Why it matters: The president's comments represent a backtrack from his interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan last week, where he set no such precondition for a Maduro meeting and suggested he's had second thoughts about his decision to recognize Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate leader.

  • Trump told Swan: "I would maybe think about that. ... Maduro would like to meet. And I'm never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings. I always say, you lose very little with meetings. But at this moment, I've turned them down."
  • Trump tweeted: "Unlike the radical left, I will ALWAYS stand against socialism and with the people of Venezuela. My Admin has always stood on the side of FREEDOM and LIBERTY and against the oppressive Maduro regime! I would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!"

The big picture: Trump's comments during his interview with Axios drew ire from top lawmakers and other officials in South Florida, per CBS Miami.

  • "The president’s words and actions are putting in danger the future of Venezuela, and the pattern is clear: Trump stands with dictators and authoritarians and desires to be one," said Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), the first member of Congress born in South America.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Republicans condemn Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A number of prominent Republican lawmakers addressed President Trump's refusal on Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November's presidential election.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted, "The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792."

Sep 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump refuses to commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses

President Trump repeatedly refused to say on Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election to Joe Biden, saying at a press briefing, "We're going to have to see what happens."

The big picture: Trump has baselessly claimed on a number of occasions that the only way he will lose the election is if it's "rigged," claiming — without evidence — that mail-in ballots will result in widespread fraud. Earlier on Wednesday, the president said he wants to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he believes the Supreme Court may have to decide the result of the election.

Exclusive: Lawmakers urge probe into DOJ's alleged racial profiling of Asians

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nearly 100 members of Congress members urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the Justice Department's alleged racial profiling of Asians, according to a letter shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The case of Anming Hu, a scientist who was baselessly targeted in an espionage probe, has renewed scrutiny of the DOJ after an FBI agent admitted to falsely implicating the Chinese Canadian.