The Trump administration has officially recognized Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of that country, since the results of the 2018 election that kept socialist strongman Nicolás Maduro in power have been widely called into question. On Saturday, Trump refused to meet with Guaidó in Miami, despite that fact that the man he officially considers the country’s leader risked his safety by leaving his home country, according to a Washington Post report.
While the White House did not comment on the reasons for Trump’s apparent snub of the officially recognized Venezuelan president, bestselling author Seth Abramson took to his Twitter account with his own speculation as to why the meeting did not take place, in a lengthy thread compiled by Thread Reader.
“The Trump-Venezuela scandal is coming, and this’ll be a data-point,” Abramson wrote, adding that Trump was engaged in a “variation of his Ukraine scheme with Venezuela.”
Abramson is the author of the books, Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America, which entered the New York Times bestseller list, and a follow-up, Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy.
Maduro has banned Guaidó from leaving Venezuela, but the opposition leader has now made two trips outside the country. Trump was expected to meet with Guaidó at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month, but that meeting never materialized either, according to The Washington Post report.
This weekend, Trump is about an hour’s drive north of Miami, at his Mar-a-Lago resort, where he planned to host a Super Bowl viewing party on Sunday. On Saturday, rather than head to Miami to express support for Guaidó with an in-person meeting, Trump played golf instead, The Washington Post reported.
“Why would Trump want to prop up Putin ally Maduro by refusing to meet with Venezuela’s rightful president?” Abramson asked in his Sunday Twitter thread.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a strong backer of Maduro’s regime, largely through his close ally and “de facto deputy” Igor Sechin, according to a report by a Washington, D.C., think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Russian oil giant Rosneft, of which Sechin is CEO, has poured about $9 billion into the Venezuelan oil industry since 2010, without seeing a profit, according to the CSIS report. The Kremlin-controlled company has acquired large stakes in four oil fields in the country, as well as two natural gas fields.
Perhaps most importantly, Rosneft holds a mortgage of almost 50 percent of the assets held by the U.S. oil company Citgo, which is actually owned by Venezuela’s state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) oil company. The financially troubled PDVSA has long been expected to default on the loan. If that happens, Russia would effectively acquire control over a significant portion of the U.S. oil supply.
In fact, in the event of a default, Russia would become “the second-largest foreign owner of U.S. domestic refinery capacity,” according to a letter from two members of Congress, Republican Jeff Duncan and Democrat Albio Sires, that was sent to Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin.
In 2018, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani engaged in secret, back-channel talks with Maduro, according to Abramson’s Twitter thread, which cites multiple media reports. The negotiations also include such Trump allies as Blackwater founder Erik Prince, Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, and Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, Abramson said.