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Trump denies U.S. involvement in alleged Venezuela plot

Trump denies U.S. involvement in alleged Venezuela plot
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., before his departure to Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump denied U.S. involvement in an alleged Venezuela invasion plot involving at least two Americans who were arrested by Caracas.

Venezuela said it has captured former U.S. special forces soldiers Airan Berry and Luke Denman after thwarting an invasion of "mercenaries" on Sunday, blaming adversaries Colombia and the United States for the operation.

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Trump told reporters Tuesday he was recently informed of the incident and that it has nothing to do with the United States.

"We just heard about it. But whatever it is, we'll let you know," he said. "But it has nothing to do with our government."

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Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper echoed Trump during a briefing on Tuesday, stating "the United States had nothing to do with what has happened in Venezuela."

Meanwhile, the State Department also accused the regime of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in a statement of conducting "a major disinformation campaign" that is "making it difficult to separate facts from propaganda."

Maduro said during a televised address Monday night that the two Americans were among a group of "terrorists" who were captured before they could assassinate him. Venezuelan officials said eight people were also killed.

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Jordan Goudreau, an ex-Green Beret and owner of private security company Slivercorp USA for which the two captured Americans worked for, has claimed responsibility for "Operation Gideon," a plan of insurrection against Maduro he said is connected to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has the support of the United States and more than 50 countries.

Guaido accused Maduro on Tuesday during a virtual session of the National Assembly of conducting a "massacre."

"Nicolas Maduro, you are responsible," he said. "They knew about this operation, they infiltrated them and waited for them to massacre them."

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Guaido also said the Maduro regime is attempting to "sow confusion" to hide Venezuela's current human rights situation.

"They want to make invisible the lack of gasoline, the struggle of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans," he said.

The United States has been applying pressure to force Maduro to step down since his re-election was deemed illegitimate early last year and has backed Guaido as interim president until new democratic elections can be held.

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