Rick Scott says "Cuban thugs" are at heart of Venezuela crisis

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

GOP senator: "Cuban thugs" at the heart of Venezuela crisis

GOP Sen. Rick Scott, of Florida, said that "Cuban thugs" were supporting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and helping to keep him in power. "Cuba is the only reason Venezuela is where it is," Scott said. "If it wasn't for the Cuban thugs that are there taking care of Maduro, Maduro would already be gone."

The U.S. has recognized opposition leader Juan Guiadó as interim president of the country and imposed sanctions on the Maduro government. Scott spoke with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast.

Scott argued that weakening the communist government in Cuba and making sure that Maduro leaves office would ensure that both Cuba and Venezuela make the turn towards democracy. He said that Cuba had sent military troops to Venezuela to defend Maduro. In January, while the U.S. expressed its support of Guiadó, Cuba was quick to announce its "unwavering solidarity" with Maduro.

Scott, who had met with Attorney General nominee William Barr shortly before recording "The Takeout," also said that he believed Barr would release much of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller when it becomes available, which is consistent with what he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in January at his confirmation hearing.

"I think he should make everything public he can that doesn't harm either national security or someone's life at risk," Scott said about making the report public, and that he "felt pretty good" about Barr making as much of it public as possible.

On the topic of the border wall and the impending threat of another shutdown, Scott said that he believed Congress and President Trump would come to an agreement to keep the government open.

"I'd be really disappointed if we didn't have a deal," Scott said. The government is set to shut down again on Feb. 15. He also called on Congress to "fix the border," meaning a mix of people, technology and barriers at the border.

"This is not about immorality, this is about keeping Americans safe," Scott said.

For more of Major's conversations with Rick Scott, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko, Jamie Benson and Sara Cook

CBSN Production: Alex Zuckerman, Eric Soussanin and Grace Segers

Show email: [email protected]

Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast

Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

First published on February 8, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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