In Washington, D.C., the new U.S. special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday on U.S. efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, three weeks after the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s new president. Elliott Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was also linked to the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela that tried to topple Hugo Chávez. Abrams was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. In the 1980s, Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. This is Democratic Congressmember Ilhan Omar of Minnesota confronting Abrams over his record Wednesday.
Rep. Ilhan Omar: “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”
Elliott Abrams: “If I can respond to that”—
Rep. Ilhan Omar: “It wasn’t a question.”
We’ll have more on Venezuela after headlines.