Trump expands Venezuela sanctions into embargo

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker calls Trump’s address on mass shootings ‘bull—t soup’ A plea to progressive political pundits: Stop wringing your hands GOP state lawmaker: ‘Republican Party is enabling white supremacy in our country’ MORE announced an executive order Monday night expanding sanctions against Venezuela into a full economic embargo.

The executive order signed Monday freezes all assets of President Nicolás Maduro’s government and bars transactions with it without specific exemptions, the first such action against a Western government in decades. The only other countries subject to such sanctions are North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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“I have determined that it is necessary to block the property of the Government of Venezuela in light of the continued usurpation of power by the illegitimate Nicolas Maduro regime,” Trump said in a letter to the House of Representatives and Senate that accompanied the executive order.

The letter also cites “the regime’s human rights abuses, arbitrary arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, curtailment of free press, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido of Venezuela and the democratically-elected Venezuelan National Assembly.”

The U.S. in January formally recognized Guaidó as the nation’s interim leader, followed by more than 50 other nations. However, the opposition has yet to successfully topple Maduro despite U.S. backing. In a leaked recording in June, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Intercept’s Jim Risen: How Neocons have consolidated power under Trump The Hill’s Morning Report – Mass shootings put spotlight on Trump, Congress New Pentagon chief says China’s ‘destabilizing behavior’ is ‘disturbing’ MORE confessed that keeping the opposition united had been “devilishly difficult.”

“The moment Maduro leaves, everybody’s going to raise their hands and [say], ‘Take me, I’m the next president of Venezuela.’ It would be forty-plus people who believe they’re the rightful heir to Maduro,” Pompeo said in a recording from a closed-door meeting obtained by The Washington Post.

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