An ex-business partner of the former Green Beret behind the failed Venezuelan coup has revealed he boasted of having U.S. government support for his botched plan.
Special forces veteran Jordan Goudreau, 43, told his close friend that he had a contract with the US State Department to ‘protect oil interests in Venezuela’, and claimed ‘we’re going to topple’ Venezuelan leader Nicholas Maduro, the friend told DailyMail.com.
Donald Trump has said the attempted coup, which led to the arrest of two other American special forces veterans by Maduro’s troops on Monday, had ‘nothing to do with our government’.
But Goudreau’s former business partner, Drew White, told DailyMail.com the would-be insurgent leader visited him in Colorado recently and made his claims of U.S. government support before traveling to Colombia to launch the short-lived coup.
Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau claimed responsibility for masterminding the failed Venezuelan coup to overthrow its leader Nicholas Maduro
On Monday two U.S. former special forces soldiers Luke Denman and Airan Berry (circled) were arrested in Venezuela after their ‘plot to assassinate Maduro’ was foiled
Goudreau said he last communicated with Denman (right) and Berry (left) when they were adrift in a boat ‘hugging’ the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. They were still in their boat following an initial confrontation with the Venezuelan Navy on Monday, he said
Goudreau’s ex-business partner Drew White (pictured) told DailyMail.com that Goudreau had boasted of having U.S. government support for his botched plan. Goudreau, 43, claimed he had a contract with the US State Department to ‘protect oil interests in Venezuela’ and claimed ‘we’re going to topple’ Maduro
White said he fought alongside Goudreau in Iraq, made him best man at his wedding and founded Florida security firm Silvercorps USA with the Green Beret veteran.
The two men started the firm in March 2018 with the aim of posting special operations soldiers in schools across the US to prevent school shooters in the wake of the Parkland massacre, but split months later when Goudreau began pursuing other projects.
White, who lives in Colorado Springs, described the last time he saw Goudreau before he embarked on his unlikely scheme to defeat the Venezuelan army with a rag-tag group of 300 poorly-fed and barely-trained rebels.
‘He came out to Colorado,’ said White. ‘He said he had a deal from the State Department to protect oil interests in Venezuela.
‘He was saying it was handed to him directly. He was saying it was directed and passed down by the State Department, that it was a legitimate operation and they also had some private funding backing, which isn’t unusual with these kinds of things.
‘Essentially he was like ”we’re going to topple Maduro.” At that point I was like ”this doesn’t seem legitimate” and we broke ways.’
White, 35, a former special forces senior weapons sergeant, said although he trusted his friend, he found it hard to believe the government had backed Goudreau’s ill-conceived plans.
‘He’s a good man. He was the best man at my wedding. We have a lot of history together and it never seemed like he was lying like that,’ he said.
‘But once you started looking at it, none of it really added up. He kept asking to meet with people for funding. But typically with a State Department contract the funding is shored up.
‘You might have some private entities helping here and there. But it was pretty obvious that it was not a state-sanctioned activity.’
On Wednesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ridiculed the idea of official government involvement, saying: ‘There was no U.S. government direct involvement in this operation.
‘(If) we’d have been involved, it would have gone differently.’
Pompeo stopped short of confirming the Americans’ detention but called it a ‘consular matter.’
‘We will start the process of trying to figure a way, if in fact these are Americans that are there, that we can figure out a path forward,’ he said. ‘We want to get every American back. If the Maduro regime decides to hold them, we will use every tool that we have available to try and get them back.’
Asked who may have bankrolled the operation, Pompeo said: ‘We’re not prepared to share any more information about what we know took place.’
White, who lives in Colorado Springs, described the last time he saw Goudreau before he embarked on his unlikely scheme to defeat the Venezuelan army with a rag-tag group of 300 poorly-fed and barely-trained rebels. He is pictured posing with a World War II veteran in an image from Instagram
Luke Denman (bottom) and Airan Berry (top) as pictured during their arrest in Venezuela
Luke Denman (left) and Airan Berry (right): Two arrested US ‘mercenaries playing Rambo’ are paraded after failed attempt ‘to kill’ Venezuela’s Maduro in a failed raid, the president claimed
On Monday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro used a press conference to display the equipment that had allegedly been seized by Venezuelan armed forces after capturing the ‘mercenaries’
Goudreau reportedly received support from billionaire Thomas Roen Kraft, a member of the famous cheese-making family.
The eccentric billionaire allegedly lured prospective donors to fund Goudreau’s rebel force with the promise of preferential access to negotiate deals in the energy and mining sectors if the coup was a success.
Kraft denies giving Goudreau any money.
Goudreau appears to have provided security for Trump at least at three of his campaign rallies. Pictures and videos of the rallies recorded on CSPAN and posted on the Silvercorp’s Instagram account show the ex-Green Beret apparently working at rallies in Pennsylvania in March 2018, and Houston, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina in October that year.
It has also emerged that Goudreau struck on the idea of a coup after meeting with Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller.
Goudreau accompanied Schiller to a meeting in Miami with activist Lester Toledo, who was working as coordinator for the delivery of humanitarian aid for then Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
Goudreau appears to have provided security for Trump at least at three of his campaign rallies. Pictures and videos of the rallies posted on the Silvercorp’s Instagram account show the ex-Green Beret apparently working at a rally in North Carolina in October 2018
Goudreau accompanied Schiller to a meeting in Miami with activist Lester Toledo, who was working as coordinator for the delivery of humanitarian aid for then Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Pictured: Trump and Guaido, who swore himself in as the leader of Venezuela posing outside the White House in Washington on February 5
The White House says Schiller cut off all contact with Goudreau after the meeting. Schiller then went to the White House as an assistant to the president.
A former NYPD cop, he was used by Trump to take the letter firing James Comey to FBI headquarters in 2017, but left the Trump administration himself in September that year amid reports of clashes with then-chief of staff John Kelly.
Schiller quickly set up a security firm which has been paid more than $225,000 by the Republican National Committee for work on plans for the RNC convention due to happen in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August.
Goudreau identified himself on Sunday as the leader of the purported plot to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro named ‘Operation Gedeón’.
On Monday, Maduro announced that two US citizens were among eight arrested after authorities were alerted by fishermen in Chuao, a village on the northern coast of the state of Aragua.
It came after eight potential raiders were killed and two more were arrested in the Caribbean port city of La Guaira as part of Goudreau’s amateur plot.
Maduro’s forces also arrested rebels in the Venezuelan city of Puerto La Cruz last week. Photographs posted on social media of supplies seized by the pro-Maduro soldiers show camouflage backpacks, masks, and – bizarrely – an Airsoft rifle.
Maduro ally and Attorney General Tarek William Saab said in total the government has arrested 114 people suspected in the attempted attack and they are on the hunt for 92 others.
It has also emerged that Goudreau struck on the idea of a coup after meeting with Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller (pictured)
President Maduro called the arrested men ‘terrorist mercenaries’ and blamed the attacks on the Trump administration, opposition leader Guaidó and neighboring Colombia, all of which have denied involvement.
A State Department spokesperson called the attempted coup a ‘melodrama’ in which the U.S. government had no role, and warned the Maduro regime is running ‘a major disinformation campaign’.
‘As President Trump and [defense] Secretary [Mark] Esper said, the United States Government was not involved in recent events in Venezuela,’ the spokesperson said.
‘There is a major disinformation campaign underway by the Maduro regime, making it difficult to separate facts from propaganda.
‘We are making efforts to learn more, including about the activities of two U.S. citizens who are reportedly in the custody of the former regime, as well as Mr. Goudreau.
‘We will also be looking closely into the role of the Maduro regime in this melodrama and especially of the very large Cuban intelligence apparatus in Venezuela. The record of falsehoods and manipulation by Maduro and his accomplices, as well as their highly questionable representation of the details, argues that nothing should be taken at face value when we see the distorting of facts.
‘What is clear is that the former regime is using the event to justify an increased level of repression,’ the spokesperson added.
‘We would note the timing of these events. A massacre of prisoners took place last weekend at Los Llanos prison and the former regime is attempting to avoid responsibility. 46 prisoners were killed and 74 injured.
‘While a thorough investigation has been demanded, we must all recognize that a real investigation will have to await the end of the Maduro regime and the return of democracy to Venezuela.’
EX-CIA CHIEF: COUP WAS INFILTRATED BY SPIES BEFORE IT WAS BUSTED
A former CIA Station Chief warned that Monday’s failed coup of Venezuela, which resulted in the arrest of two U.S. citizens, may have been infiltrated by Venezuela’s intelligence unit or military.
Daniel Hoffman told Fox & Friends Wednesday that the arrested men – veterans Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41 – could be used as leverage against the U.S. by Venezuela, warning that the foiled attack could ‘make it that much more difficult for us’.
Denman and Berry were arrested Monday along with six Venezuelans following the launch of a haphazard coup organized by ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau. It came after eight people were killed and two more arrested on Sunday also linked with the failed plot.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed the attack was an attempt to assassinate him, placing blame on the Trump administration, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó and neighboring Colombia, all of which have denied any involvement.
Venezuela officials also claimed that one of the people arrested Sunday was a drug smuggler linked to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA has denied involvement in the weekend’s events.
Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez presented a video Tuesday from José Alberto Socorro Hernándeas which allegedly includes an admission from Hernándeas that he works with the DEA. The DEA has denied any involvement in the failed coup in Venezuela
Speaking on Fox, Hoffman claimed that the coup had not been as large as Maduro was claiming but that those involved showed ‘horrifically bad judgement’ because of the ‘far greater impact’ it would now have on U.S. relations with Venezuela.
He warned that the group training for the coup in Colombia may have been infiltrated and that it would be ‘something for the United States to look at’.
‘This is not the coup that Nicolas Maduro is claiming it to be, roughly 60 Venezuelans and a couple of retired US special forces,’ Hoffman said, adding that there were three major ways that it would now affect relations.
Hoffman said that the reported links between Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó and the attack would cause Maduro to reiterate his claim that Guaidó is a ‘puppet of the United States’, something he says is not true.
The United States has recognized Guaidó as the legitimatize leader of Venezuela and has led the cause to oust Maduro.
‘He [Maduro] will also try and use this as a scapegoat for Venezuela’s failing economy, look at the drop in oil prices which has significantly impacted the world but Venezuela as well,’ Hoffman added.
Former CIA station chief Brian Hoffman warned that Venezula’s allies in Russia, Cuba, Iran and China would be advising Preisdent Maduro as he used the arrested Americans as leverage
The former CIA station chief warned of the way in which the arrested American citizens may now be used as leverage by the Venezuelan government.
‘We have broken diplomatic relations with Venezuela and it’s going to make it that much more difficult for us,’ he said.
‘We don’t have an embassy in Caracas and we’ve got five Citgo employees who are also illegally detained.
‘Maduro is known, among everything else, not only for narco-terrorism but also for violating human rights and extrajudicial killings. This is going to be a tough situation for us diplomatically.