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Report: Giuliani Involved in 'Back-Channel' Venezuela Talks

Sources say White House officials were surprised
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2019 4:46 AM CST

(Newser) – Ukraine wasn't the only country where Rudy Giuliani was involved in a shadow foreign policy, according to the Washington Post. Sources tell the newspaper that President Trump's attorney was involved in back-channel negotiations to negotiate an exit for Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as the country's crisis intensified last year. The sources say Giuiani was on a phone call with Maduro and then-Rep. Pete Sessions in Sept. 2018 as part of the attempt to ease Maduro out of power, which was backed by business interests seeking to reopen the country's energy industry. White House officials were confused when they found out that Giuliani was involved, the insiders say. The effort conflicted with the hardline official US policy toward Venezuela at the time.

"We didn’t know why Rudy was involved at the time," a former senior administration official says. The Post's sources say that Giuliani—who is representing Venezuelan energy tycoon Alejandro Betancourt Lopez in a Florida money laundering case—met with business execs with interests in Venezuela weeks before the Maduro call, A spokesman for Sessions, a Republican who lost his seat in last year's election, says he was "pleased to help with this back-channel mission, which was coordinated with the highest levels of the US State Department," although some White House officials say talks were not officially sanctioned. The Post's sources say then-national security adviser John Bolton "vehemently rejected" the Maduro plan when Giuliani discussed it with him. (Read more Venezuela stories.)

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