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Venezuela implicated US Ambassador to Colombia in opposition plan to destabilize Maduro's rule

Venezuela's government is implicating the U.S. ambassador to Colombia in a plot to destabilize President Nicolas Maduro's rule.

Leaders of the ruling socialist party on Wednesday presented what they said were emails written by ousted lawmaker Maria Corina Machado to members of the opposition. In one dated March 23 Machado describes how Kevin Whitaker offered his support to the opposition and indicated "new steps." At the time Whitaker oversaw Andean affairs at the State Department.

Officials didn't say how the emails were obtained.

A State Department spokesman speaking on condition of anonymity said the allegations are baseless and an effort by Maduro's government to distract attention from grievances fueling anti-government protests.

The accusations come as U.S House of Representatives is set to vote on imposing sanctions against Venezuelan officials.