Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Scene from an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images

The collapse of a U.S.-backed plot to bring down Nicolás Maduro leaves the Venezuelan opposition vulnerable, and the Trump administration with few options short of military force.

Why it matters: “What we saw happen in the last few days is a card you only get to play once," says Fernando Cutz, who served as South America director on the White House National Security Council earlier in the Trump administration.

“We’re getting very close to a put up or shut up moment. Either you go all-in on Venezuela or you pretend it never happened.”
— Cutz on the Trump administration's predicament

Catch up quick: After weeks of effort, the Venezuelan opposition thought it had convinced members of Maduro's inner circle to turn on him.

  • The plan was to go into effect on Wednesday, but Maduro reportedly caught wind of it and there were fears Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela's legitimate president, would be arrested.
  • Guaidó made his move at dawn on Tuesday, appearing alongside Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition icon who had been under house arrest, and declared that elements of the military were under his control.

National security adviser John Bolton has since laid out the next dominoes the U.S. expected to fall:

  • After a series of high-profile defections and steps challenging Maduro's legitimacy, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino and the military were to "take action."
  • As the plan began to unfold, Maduro considered fleeing to Havana but "the Russians said, 'Don't leave right now. If this all crumbles, we'll get you out,'" a source briefed on the matter tells me.
  • In the end, nearly all of the officials and most of the military stood by Maduro. Bolton said it was "not clear" why the plan failed, but he lambasted the alleged conspirators by name for failing to follow through.

With Padrino at his side today in an early morning parade, Maduro claimed the military's total loyalty and asked: “How many deaths would there be if a civil war started here because of the senselessness of the coup-mongers and traitors?"

  • Guaidó, meanwhile, is trying to keep the pressure on. He told supporters at fresh protests today: "We are on the right track, there is no turning back."

"There was probably an expectation from Venezuelans on the ground that when the time came that they really needed it, the U.S. would do something," Cutz says. “I don’t think the U.S. was ever ready to take that step.”

  • Cutz says Bolton is probably seeking or examining military options "as we speak." Short of an all-out invasion, he says the options include covert steps, a naval blockade or no-fly zone — all of which carry major risks.
  • One red line the White House has set is Guaidó's safety. If he's arrested, that will be a real test of Washington's will.

Between the lines: The Trump administration's rhetorical offensive can't last forever without results. But officials insist the equation in Caracas could shift in Guaidó's direction without military action.

  • The "paranoid dynamic at the heart of the regime" combined with the cumulative effects of U.S. sanctions "could force things to come to a head," the source briefed on the matter argues.
  • A senior administration official adds: “Maduro is acutely aware that he cannot trust his circle of advisers, a fact clearly seen in his overwhelming use of paid colectivo thugs and foreign military and intelligence services to intimidate those who would otherwise stand for democracy and the people of Venezuela.”

What to watch: Clashes between security forces and protestors have reportedly left four dead, but we haven't seen a "Tiananmen or Tahrir Square moment," Shannon O'Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations writes for Axios Expert Voices:

"Whether the standoff escalates into widespread bloodshed may be the most decisive question for the longevity of Maduro's regime and the future of Venezuela."

By the numbers: Suffering in Venezuela

Gallup's polling on safety and well-being around the world offers a glimpse at how far things have fallen since Venezuela's economic collapse began.

  • In 2010, 64% of Venezuelans were satisfied with the availability of quality health care. That's down to 15%.
  • In 2010, 46% said they had confidence in police and 31% felt safe walking alone at night. Those are down to 14% and 12%, respectively.
  • In 2010, 64% of Venezuelans were considered to be "thriving" (based on polling related to their well-being) while 4% were "suffering." Now 28% are suffering while just 13% are thriving.

Go deeper

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

Former Sen. David Perdue to launch bid for Georgia governor

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Former Senator David Perdue (R) plans to announce a campaign against Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp Monday, according to a source familiar with Perdue's thinking.

Why it matters: Perdue's challenge to his former ally Kemp sets up an unprecedented "scorched earth" battle between Georgia Republicans fueled by former President Donald Trump, in the battleground state. The news was first reported by Politico.

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.