The White House on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against Venezuela that explicitly exempt the U.S. arm of the country’s state-owned oil company. That company, Citgo, donated six-figure sums to Trump’s inauguration and recently hired former Trump officials to lobby for that exemption.
The purpose of the new sanctions announced by the administration is to target arms of the Venezuelan government that have supported or facilitated President Nicolas Maduro’s ongoing crackdown on domestic political opposition. The carve out for Citgo was included in the White House statement released on Friday.
“To mitigate harm to the American and Venezuelan people, the Treasury Department is issuing general licenses that allow for transactions that would otherwise be prohibited by the Executive Order,” the White House wrote in a statement on the sanctions. “These include provisions allowing for…transactions only involving Citgo,” and no other sanctioned entity.
Citgo is the U.S. arm of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the country’s state-owned oil company. Since 2014, Citgo, a Delaware corporation, has fought to insulate its operations from measures aimed at punishing the Maduro regime’s efforts to consolidate political power.
Under the administration of President Donald Trump, those efforts entailed beefing up its D.C. influence operation with lobbyists with deep ties to the president’s political operation. In April, it hired Avenue Strategies, the firm co-founded by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign adviser Barry Bennett.
Since then, Citgo has paid Avenue Strategies $160,000 to…
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