Questions Arise About Pete Sessions’ Secret Trip to Venezuela

Texas Republican says he was on a peace mission

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, is facing criticism for a trip he made to Venezuela. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, is facing criticism for a trip he made to Venezuela. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 9, 2018 at 8:15am

Rep. Pete Sessions is facing questions about a previously undisclosed trip the Texas Republican took to Venezuela last week that his office is calling a peace mission.

The Associated Press first reported Sessions made a two-day trip and met with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.

Sessions’ spokeswoman Caroline Boothe said it was part of Sessions’ efforts to resolve the conflict in the embattled South American nation.

Boothe also said as chairman of the House Rules Committee, Sessions frequently works to ensure other countries are respecting democratic norms.

On Friday, Sessions told the Dallas Morning News in an interview he met with both Maduro and members of opposing political parties to promote “dialogue between parties that are trying to make progress.”

“Many times it has been attempted publicly and openly, and that has not worked toward resolution,” he said of negotiations.

Sessions also said he paid for the trip out of his own pocket and not with taxpayer dollars.

The trip comes at a time when President Donald Trump’s administration is considering sanctions on Venezuela’s oil since it considers Maduro’s re-election campaign a sham.

While Sessions’ district is home to oil companies, his team denied his visit was related to the industry.

Watch: What to Expect, and Not Expect, From the House After Recess

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The trip comes in a year in which Sessions faces a tough re-election fight. Texas’ 32nd District broke for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Democrats are targeting the district, which Inside Elections With Nathan L. Gonzales rates Likely Republican.

Colin Allred or Lillian Salerno will face off in the runoff primary on May 22nd to determine who will be the Democrat to face Sessions in November.

“While our communities suffer from gun violence, lack of access to health care, and an education system that is not up to par, Pete is off jet-setting to Venezuela without a clear explanation for his involvement,” Allred said.

Salerno joked that maybe Sessions was “planning retirement.”

“One thing I do know: Whether he’s in D.C. attacking health care and carving out special-interest giveaways or roaming around Venezuela, he’s not getting anything done for the people of Texas,” she said.