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Venezuela government says thwarted attempted ‘coup’

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Venezuela’s socialist government said Wednesday it had derailed an attempted coup, claiming the United States, Colombia and Chile colluded in a military plot to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and install a general and former defense minister in his place.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the plan involved active and retired army officers and was to have been executed between Sunday and Monday this past weekend.

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“We were in all the meetings to plan the coup d’Etat. We were in all the conferences,” Rodriguez said, suggesting that government informers had infiltrated the alleged plotters during planning meetings.

He accused Colombia’s right-wing President Ivan Duque of “planning coups, assassinations of the president” as well as implicating Chile’s conservative President Sebastian Pinera and US National Security Advisor John Bolton in the plot.

At least six of the alleged plotters had been detained, the minister said in a televised speech in Caracas, presenting testimony from one of them, named as Lieutenant Carlos Saavedra.

Four of the officers were arrested last Friday, a move denounced by opposition leader Juan Guaido in a statement on Tuesday, though no details of the circumstances, or the reasons for their arrests, emerged.

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Saavedra was identified as the nephew of retired General Ramon Saavedra, who was arrested Wednesday by intelligence agents in Venezuela’s western Barinas state.

– Recorded confession –

According to Rodriguez, surveillance of the plotters and Saavedra’s recorded confession revealed that the plan envisaged the takeover of three military bases, including the La Carlota air base in Caracas.

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The plotters hoped to spring Raul Baduel — a former defense minister under late president Hugo Chavez — from jail to proclaim him president, Rodriguez said.

“It is a military coup d’etat against Guaido or against President Nicolas Maduro?” Rodriguez joked.

Guaido is recognized as interim president by the United States and more than 50 other countries after the National Assembly leader said in January that Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.

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Venezuelan authorities recently announced that 17 people had been charged with attempting a coup on April 30, during Guaido’s failed attempt to inspire an uprising, when he called on the armed forces to rebel against Maduro.

The effort failed to shift the military’s allegiance and Guaido was backed by only around 30 military personnel. The revolt sputtered out after two days of deadly clashes between protesters and security forces.

Rodriguez accused Maduro’s former intelligence chief Cristopher Figuera — who has defected to the United States — of seeking “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for supporting the abortive uprising.

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Figuera “turned out to be a mercenary,” the minister said in Caracas.

In a series of shock claims made to media in the United States, Figuera said members of Maduro’s family and his government were engaged in money laundering and corruption, and alleged that Hezbollah cells were allowed to operate in Venezuela and raise funds.

Washington has imposed a series of crippling sanctions on Maduro’s government, holding the president responsible for the collapse of the Latin American oil giant, which has seen millions flee the country amid widespread shortages of basic goods and medicines.

Russia, Maduro’s staunchest foreign backer along with Cuba and China, announced earlier Wednesday it was withdrawing military “technicians.”

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It deployed the military personnel in Venezuela in a highly-publicized show of support for Maduro, who has been locked in a months-long power struggle with Guaido.


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Republican stumbles as he tries to defend Trump’s claim that Iran can be trusted to fight ISIS

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During an appearance on Fox News this Wednesday, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) hit a snag while trying to justify President Trump's earlier contention that Russia and Iran would step in to fill the void left by the US after its withdrawal from northeast Syria, saying that "Russia, Iran, Syria and to maybe slightly lesser extent Turkey, they all hate ISIS as much as we do," during a Wednesday press conference alongside Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Speaking to Biggs, Fox News host Harris Faulkner pointed out that Trump's willingness to partly cede Syria's future to Iran contradicts his and other conservatives' rhetoric towards the Islamic Republic.

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Alan Dershowitz boots rival lawyer from sex abuse case

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Alan Dershowitz continues to deny accusations that he had sex with an underage woman on Jeffrey Epstein's private island. Flight logs show Dershowitz regularly flew on Epstein's private plane, dubbed the Lolita Express.

Dershowitz' explanation for why the allegations continue to dog him despite his firm denies is that a lawyer for the woman accusing Dershowitz—Virginia Giuffre—is out to get him.

On Wednesday, a judge agreed to take David Boies, the high-profile lawyer, off the case, reports the Daily Beast.

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Here are the six most absurd things Trump just said in his unhinged Wednesday press conference

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President Donald Trump unloaded a whole lot of crazy during a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Trump attacked America's allies in the Middle East, his own political allies on Capitol Hill and repeated talking points used by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdo?an.

Here are six of the most absurd things from the press conference.

Trump proved he has no idea what's happening

During the press conference, Trump claimed his decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria was "strategically brilliant."

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