The plotters behind the disastrous attempt to topple Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro in May claim they met with two Trump administration officials and held meetings at two of the president’s hotels prior to the failed coup, according to a new report.
The two Trump administration officials, Andrew ‘Drew’ Horn, at the time an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Jason Beardsley, a former soldier who is an adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, also allegedly voiced support for the plan, dubbed Operation Gideon, according to the Miami Herald.
The allegations, made in a lawsuit filed on behalf of ex-U.S. special operations sergeant Jordan Goudreau, challenges the government’s denials of any involvement or knowledge of the plot.
Goudreau, whose security firm Silvercorp hired former Green Berets Airan Berry and Luke Denham to carry out Gideon, said plans were shared in secret meetings, in the back of limousines in Miami, in restaurants and even on the ‘Red’ gold course of Trump National Doral.
The suit, filed Friday in Miami-Dade Circuit, is against Venezuelan legislator Juan Guaidó and seeking $1.4million for an alleged breach-of-contract. The Trump administration began referring to Guaidó as the legitimate president of the oil-rich nation in January 2019.
Goudreau, in several hours of interviews with the Herald, insisted he had encouragement from the Trump administration and even held meetings to plan the operation at the Trump Hotel in Washington DC, as well as the Trump Doral in Miami.
The plotters behind the disastrous attempt to topple embattled Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro last May met with two Trump administration officials and held meetings at two of the president’s Miami resorts prior to the failed coup (above)
The allegations, made in a lawsuit filed on behalf of ex-U.S. special operations sergeant Jordan Goudreau (above), challenges the government’s denials of any involvement or knowledge of the plot
Goudreau, in several hours of interviews, insisted he had encouragement from the Trump administration and even held meetings to plan the operation at the Trump Hotel in DC (right) and at the Trump Doral, in West Miami
The goal of Gideon was to replace Maduro by installing Guaidó, whose name appears on a contract he purportedly signed with the coup plotters.
Obtained by the Miami Herald, the document shows a never-before-seen clause that allows Guaidó to deny any involvement if the mission failed.
It also says that Silvercorp ‘will advise and assist … in planning and executing an operation to capture/detain/remove Nicolás Maduro (heretoafter, “Primary Objective”), remove the current regime, and install the recognized Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó
Additionally, the outlet obtained a recording of what appears to be Guaidó speaking in English to the plotters, encouraging them and celebrating their just-signed contract.
‘I do have concerns but we are doing the right thing for our country and we are in a humanitarian crisis,’ the man believed to be Guaidó is heard telling Goudreau.
Guaidó denies any involvement or prior knowledge of with Operation Gideon.
The failed coup ended in the capture of former soldiers Berry and Denham on May 3, along with 47 Venezuelans. It also led to the death of six would-be freedom-fighters who are believed to have been executed.
Text exchanges shared by Goudreau in the suit suggest that at least one his meetings took place at the Washington DC restaurant P.J. Clarke’s, which is blocks away from the White House.
According to the Herald, testimony from those involved indicates that opposition figures were briefed on the plot at different stages, including Guaidó and the head of his party, Leopoldo López.
In the months that followed the foiled operation, Goudreau says in the suit that he came to feel abandoned and scapegoated by his alleged co-conspirators. He said he decided to break his silence and name the people he said had knowledge of his efforts to overthrow the Maduro regime.
Goudreau also claims to have seen a competing offer to help the Guaidó administration purportedly from Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who owns the security firm Frontier Services Group.
Prince, who is named in the suit, denies Goudreau’s allegations.
The goal of Operation Gideon was to replace Maduro (left) by installing Juan Guaidó (right), whose name appears on a contract purportedly signed with the coup plotters.
Goudreau security firm Silvercorp hired former Green Berets (left to right) Airan Berry and Luke Denham to carry out Gideon
The two Trump administration officials, Andrew ‘Drew’ Horn (left), at the time an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Jason Beardsley (right), a former soldier who is an adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, also allegedly voiced support for the plan, dubbed Operation Gideon, according to the Miami Herald .
Also named is former Pence aide Andrew Horn and Jason Beardsley, two Trump administration officials who Goudreau claims had knowledge of his plans.
A spokesperson for Pence said the vice president does not know Horn and had ‘absolutely no knowledge of the rogue plot in Venezuela’.
However, Horn’s LinkedIn page identifies him as a former associate director of policy for Pence and now an adviser to the Director of National Intelligence.
Two aides in Pence’s office later identified Horn as a ‘Department of Energy employee who was detailed to the vice president’s office as a detailee on the domestic policy team. Horn was ‘not assigned any responsibilities in the national security portfolio, and he was not assigned any issues related to Venezuela,’ the statement to the Herald read.
Goudreau also claims key representative of the Guaidó governing team played an active role in setting the plot into motion, at one point demanding $20 million be set aside to finance an internal uprising.
Silvercorps plan was to infiltrate the country through the town of Macuto with around 100 Venezuelan exiles and incite a popular rebellion against the government, similar tactics to those employed in the doomed Bay of Pigs plot in Cuba in 1961.
Their main objective was to ensure the extradition of Maduro to face justice in the United States over allegations of systematic human rights violations, including killings and torture amounting to crimes against humanity.
While details of the plot are scant, the failed operation led to the capture of Berry and Denham.
Their images were broadcast widely throughout the country in the days after, and they were each sentenced to 20 years in prison in August.
DailyMail.com exclusively obtained images of the men last week, marking the first time they’d been seen in nearly six months, when they shared a Zoom call with family.
The failed operation led to the capture of Berry and Denham (circled left to right)
DailyMail.com exclusively obtained images of the men last week, marking the first time they’d been seen in nearly six months
Weeks after the men were arrested and the plot revealed, the FBI conducted a raid on a Boco Raton apartment when Goudreau was staying and seized $56,800 in cash.
The bureau refused to comment on the existence of the raid when approached by the Herald. Goudreau’s attorney said the money had been withdrawn from his bank account and didn’t come from the Venezuelans.
Goudreau accuses the FBI of attempting lure him into a ‘death-by-cop’ scenario in the raid.
‘I don’t care about clearing my name. I just want my guys. The guys who did this are good dudes. They are patriots,’ Goudreau told the Herald. ‘I want people to know the good guys are absolutely being [expletive] hunted down.’
He once again insisted the attempted coup was encourage by some in the Trump administration, including Horn and Beardsley.
According to his lawsuit, Goudreau was introduced to Horn and Beardsley by Washington lobbyist Travis Lucas, whom Goudreau said he first met in October 2019 at the urging of Nestor Sainz, a former State Department official who was also an alleged plotter.
Gordeau said that initial meeting with Lucas at the coffee shop inside the Trump Hotel in DC.
Lucas then reportedly introduced him to Horn and Beardsley and they met up multiple times.
‘Horn assured Goudreau that licenses from the United States Government regarding the procurement of weapons and armaments for the project were forthcoming,’ the suit says, according to the Herald.
‘Drew Horn originally wanted to set up a meeting between myself and Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago … a direct face-to-face but that never happened,’ Goudreau alleged.
‘The expectation [from Horn and Beardsley] was that we were gonna help facilitate, to help flip the country.’
He also claims that Lucas suggested Beardsley be ‘involved in efforts to fulfill the requirements’ of the contract.
Lucas emphatically denied any involvement in the coup, saying he had ‘no knowledge about the coup attempt before it transpired, and never discussed or communicated with any U.S. government official regarding a coup or uprising in Venezuela.’
Goudreau said Kraft told him in August 2019 that he had spoken with Mike Pence about the Operation Gideon, and claimed he was ‘very interested in the project and that as soon as it was successful, “all doors would be open”.’ A spokesperson for Pence called the claim a ‘complete and total fabrication’
Goudreau also claims to have seen a competing offer to help the Guaidó administration purportedly from Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (above), who owns the security firm Frontier Services Group. Prince, who is named in the suit, denies Goudreau’s allegations.
Goudreau served in the U.S. Army for 15 years. After receiving honourable discharge in 2016, he reportedly worked security for the Trump 2016 campaign.
Between May and August 2019, Goudreau said he attended multiple meetings in both Miami and Colombia where they discussed the overthrow of the Maduro regime.
One of those he allegedly met with was Sainz, the former State Department official, and Roen Kraft, an air to the cheese giant who is named in the lawsuit as the financial backer of the operation. Neither commented on their alleged involvement.
Goudreau said Kraft told him in August 2019 that he had spoken with Mike Pence about the Operation Gideon, and claimed he was ‘very interested in the project and that as soon as it was successful, “all doors would be open”.’
A spokesperson for Pence called the claim a ‘complete and total fabrication’.
Jorge Betancourt, who Goudreau said was a representative of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, and Lester Toledo, another Lopez aide, are also identified as plotters.
Operation Gideon began to falter incredibly quickly. Goudreau said the operation was infiltrated by Maduro spies.
On March 23, 2020, Colombian authorities impounded a Venezuela-bound truck carrying automatic rifles and tactical gear. Officials said they believe the shipment was for an operation to overthrow Maduro.
A Venezuelan exile with prior knowledge of the failed effort told the Herald that by January 2020 it was widely known that a paramilitary-aided attack was on the horizon.
‘Once the regime knew, they began to manipulate the operation,’ the source said.
By that point, the Defense Department had also began hatching a plan with Venezuelans called Operation X Zone to instigate insurgencies.
Goudreau’s suit casts doubt on the claim that he operated as a lone wolf in plotting and planning Operation Gideon.
Brother of captured Luke Denham, Mark Denham, told the Herald his brother ‘believed it to be a US-backed operation. That doesn’t mean it was’.