The Stalemate in Venezuela

By Daniel Larison

Guaido’s desperate gamble to force Maduro from power in Venezuela seemed to sputter and fail today:

Making his first public appearance since the chaotic events began to unfold, Maduro went on state TV late Tuesday, looking tired but calm and denouncing what he labeled a “foolish” and “failed” coup instigated by the United States. Flanked by top government and military officials, he called for a mass demonstration of supporters on Wednesday and denied Pompeo’s assertion that he was preparing to leave Caracas on Tuesday.

After three months of deadlock, Venezuela’s crisis appears to be no closer to resolution than it was in January. Maduro remains entrenched as the de facto president with the backing of the military, and the opposition has made few tangible gains. U.S. sanctions are adding to the Venezuelan people’s misery, but they are unlikely to bring down the regime. Guaido’s repeated attempts to force the issue and drive a wedge between Maduro and the military have been unsuccessful, and with each failed attempt the convenient fiction that he is the president of Venezuela becomes untenable. The de facto government enjoys Cuban and Russian backing, and so far that has proven to be enough to keep Maduro in place. Despite bluster from administration officials demanding that Russians and Cubans leave the country, Maduro’s international supporters show no signs of abandoning him or the regime. Guaido has not been able to gain many supporters among the military, and the supporters he does have are few in number:

As the day unfolded, it became less clear that Guaidó had the support of the full military, said Venezuela security expert Brian Fonseca, a former Marine and U.S. Southern Command intelligence analyst who now serves as the director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University.

“What we saw today so far is some elements of the National Guard, some general officers from the National Guard” actually support Guaidó, Fonseca said. He estimated that the total number of forces behind Guaidó was likely only in the hundreds. “To me, the most important, powerful branch is the Army and we are not seeing the types of fractures there,” Fonseca said.

Switching sides to back the opposition is an obvious risk that many officers won’t want to take, and so far Guaido has not given them much reason to take the risk. No one is going to stick his neck out for an uprising that seems doomed to fail, and until the opposition can make it seem as if they have a chance of winning most of the military is going to stay on the side of the regime or remain neutral.

Trump railed against Cuba’s involvement and appeared to threaten them if they don’t withdraw their forces from Venezuela:

President Trump on Monday accused Cuba of aiding the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who the administration evidently hoped would be ousted by day’s end, warning that it would impose an embargo and additional sanctions …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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15 Questions Robert Mueller Must Answer

By Peter Van Buren

You know that movie with Bruce Willis and the kid who says “I see dead people”? In the end, it turns out everyone is already dead. Now imagine there are people who don’t believe that. They insist the story ends some other way. Spoiler alert: the Mueller Report ends with no collusion. No one is going to prosecute anyone for obstruction. That stuff is all dead. We all saw the same movie.

Yet there seem to still be questions from those who don’t get it. And while it’s doubtful that the stoic Robert Mueller will ever write a tell-all book, or sit next to Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah to dish, he may be called in front of Congress. If he is, here’s some of what he should be asked.

1) You didn’t charge President Donald Trump with “collusion,” obstruction, or any other new crime. Tell us why. If the answer is “the evidence did not support it,” please say so.

2) Your Report did not refer any crimes to Congress, the SDNY, or anyone else. Again, tell us why. If the answer is “the evidence did not support it,” please say so again.

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3) Despite making no specific referrals, the Report does state, “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of the office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” Why did you include such a restating of a known fact? Many have read that line to mean you could not indict a sitting president and so you wanted to leave a clue to Congress. Yet you could have just spelled it out—”this is beyond my and the attorney general’s constitutional roles and must/can only be resolved by Congress.” Why didn’t you?

4) Similarly, many believe they see clues (a footnote looms as the grassy knoll of your work) that the only reason you did not indict Trump was because of Department of Justice and Office of Legal Counsel guidance against indicting a sitting president. Absent that, would you have indicted? If so, why didn’t you say so unambiguously and trigger what would be the obvious next steps?

5) When did you conclude there was no collusion, conspiracy, or coordination between Trump and the Russians such that you would make no indictments? You must have closed at least some of the subplots—the Trump Tower meeting, the Moscow Hotel project—months ago. Did you consider announcing key findings as they occurred? You were clearly aware that there was inaccurate reporting, damaging to the public trust. Yet you allowed that to happen. Why?

6) But before you answer that question, answer this one. You made a pre-Report public statement saying Buzzfeed’s story that claimed Trump ordered Michael Cohen to lie to Congress was false. You restated that in the Report, where you also mentioned that you privately told Jeff Sessions’ lawyer in March 2018 that Sessions would not be charged. Since your work confirmed that …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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Judith Miller: For Venezuela, is the moment now?

By Judith Miller Venezuela is on the edge. Tuesday’s uprising is a make-or-break moment for the opposition’s protracted effort to oust disputed President Nicolas Maduro. The odds are against its success. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Walter Russell Mead: Trump takes aim at Venezuela and Cuba

By Walter Russell Mead As Washington and Moscow face off over Venezuela, the Caribbean has become a focal point for global politics for the first time since the Cold War. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Doug Schoen: Trump, Pelosi and Schumer show bipartisanship possible on $2 trillion infrastructure plan

By Douglas Schoen We saw a rare and welcome display of bipartisanship Tuesday when the top Democrats in Congress emerged from a meeting with President Trump to announce the president had agreed on the need to invest $2 trillion to repair and upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, railroads and broadband. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Stuart Varney: ‘Jeopardy!’ star, James Holzhauer is no ‘menace’

By Stuart Varney “James Holzhauer is a menace to ‘Jeopardy!'” Really? That was the headline in a Washington Post opinion piece Monday. What nonsense. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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Lauren Appell: Faith-based films now feature top Hollywood talent — Here’s why it matters

By Lauren DeBellis Appell While “Avengers Endgame” was already setting box office records last weekend, a promising and unexpected trend has developed recently in Hollywood. High-profile actors are emerging in movies with powerful messages of faith — a faith which is often shunned in Hollywood circles. …read more

Via:: Fox Opines

      

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