The Trump administration is calling—in triplicate—for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down. President Trump, Mike Pence, and Mike Pompeo all issued statements proclaiming that the US is recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader. Each of them said the US would take all diplomatic and economic measures necessary to support a transition to a new government. In his statement, Pompeo said Maduro should "step aside in favor of a legitimate leader reflecting the will of the Venezuelan people." Guaido, the chief of the country's opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself interim president on Wednesday amid widespread street protests against Maduro, who was sworn in for a contested second term two weeks ago.
The 35-year-old lawmaker raised his right hand and said he was "formally assuming the responsibility of the national executive." Trump said in Wednesday's statement that Venezuelans have "courageously spoken" against Maduro and for freedom and the rule of law. CNN adds that Trump called the National Assembly the country's sole "legitimate branch of government" and wrote that it "invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant." The AP reports the Trump administration has been inching toward such a declaration ever since Maduro was inaugurated; he was re-elected last year in an election widely panned as fraudulent. Sources tell CNN Trump is willing to impose oil sanctions if Maduro does not respond appropriately.
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