Mnuchin: Juan Guiado Is The Rightful Leader Of Venezuela


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the potential impact of the partial government shutdown on the economy and Americans' tax returns, the risks of another potential shutdown and the administration's sanctions on Venezuela.

BARTIROMO: Let me move on to the sanctions and, in particular, Venezuela, because you've applied sanctions on the Venezuelan oil industry. Tell us specifically what the impact here is.

MNUCHIN: Well, sanctions are a very important tool in our national security portfolio. And when we look at national security issues, we look at economic tools, we look at diplomacy, we look at national security tools, military options. So there's no question that what we're trying to do is to cut off the money to the regime that should not be in power and make sure that President Guaido has access to funds and has access to the assets of the country, and to make sure we protect these assets for the people of Venezuela.

It's really quite sad. This is a country that is very, very rich in oil resources, that has had extraordinary poverty and extraordinary humanitarian issues over the last issue.

BARTIROMO: And have you spoken with the opposition leader party about this? What has been the response so far?

MNUCHIN: I haven't personally, but I know the vice president has been in communication. I think the response has been very positive. We've been very careful in balancing this. We've -- I've spoken to many of the refineries over the last week. I wanted to make sure that there was significant capacity. There's a lot of oil on the water already in transit to the U.S. refineries.

So I think, on the one hand, we've been able to cut off Venezuelan oil going forward, but we're managing this with the U.S. refineries. We've issued licenses for the U.S. refineries to continue to operate. And if Venezuela wants to continue to sell us oil, which we'd like to buy, that money would go into blocked accounts and will be protected for the people of Venezuela.

BARTIROMO: So what about other industries in Venezuela? I mean the sanctions are on the oil industry. What about other money and other imports that -- they still get that?

MNUCHIN: We'll always look at additional sanctions. We want to make sure that things like medicine and other humanitarian issues continue to go to the people. We'll -- but we'll always look at additional sanctions to make sure we protect the assets of the country for the -- the people of Venezuela.

BARTIROMO: Why was it important that the president back the opposition leader, Guaido?

MNUCHIN: I think he is the rightful leader of the country. The national assembly, the constitution, I think you know democracy is very important to the people of the United States and we want to make sure that there are free and fair elections and that there is a proper democracy. That's very important to the national security of the United States.

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