"I would much rather be on the side of Guaidó than Maduro," senior Trump administration official says

By Fin Gomez

/ CBS News

Dozens injured in clashes in Venezuela

White House — White House officials said the momentum is "clearly" behind Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó rather than leader Nicolás Maduro, despite that critics have described as setbacks in its launch to topple the Maduro regime. In interviews with CBS News, senior administration officials said the White House is emboldened over Guaidó's recent "Operation Freedom" campaign.

"I'll tell you what I would rather be on the side of Guaidó than Maduro right now," a senior administration official told CBS News. Maduro's inner circle of advisers are actively being wooed to switch sides by the U.S. and members of the Venezuelan Guaidó contingent.

"Maduro is acutely aware that he cannot trust his circle of advisers, a fact clearly seen in his overwhelming use of paid colectivo thugs and foreign military and intelligence services to intimidate those who would otherwise stand for democracy and the people of Venezuela," the official said.

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"The military has to turn," a senior White House official said earnestly to CBS News when asked about the Guaidó's chances to assume the presidency.

Dozens injured in clashes in Caracas, Venezuela

The officials pushed back on criticism that the efforts by Guaidó's uprising has failed to change over faster.

Maduro was on state-run Venezuelan television Thursday, surrounded by military commanders. Maduro told the cameras the Venezuelan troops that they would soon confront "traitors."

President Trump called Guaidó a "brave person" in an interview Thursday night on Fox News.

"I know what he's going through, I'm speaking to his people all the time, he's a brave guy, " Mr. Trump said.

When asked if he thought there was a "tipping point" for military intervention by the United States into Venezuela, the president replied "there's always a tipping point, but certainly I'd rather not do that."

In a separate interview, a U.S. official confirmed the White House is actively seeking avenues to supply more financial support to Guaidó's fledgling opposition. CNN first reported this news.

First published on May 2, 2019 / 10:16 PM

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