He warned that if things go wrong Venezuela could “descend into conflict” and threaten worldwide peace and security, “and so we need to act, in whatever way we can, starting with our discussion today”.
The agency said the justices were responsible for a number of rulings in the past year that have usurped the authority of Venezuela’s democratically-elected legislature, the National Assembly.
“When you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that Venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder why is that happening, how is that possible?” said Trump.
The opposition has accused the government of violently repressing protests by Venezuelans demanding early elections to remove Maduro from power.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has likened the harassment of government officials and their families living overseas to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis.
The joint statement by HRW and the Venezuelan Penal Forum NGO noted that at least 275 civilians who had congregated to protest dictator Nicolás Maduro had been arrested and thrown into military prisons between late March, when the latest wave of protests began, and May 15. On Thursday, several thousand demonstrators once again disrupted life in Caracas and other cities with protests that ended in clashes with security forces firing tear gas and rubber bullets, leaving more than 50 people injured.
Among those hit with sanctions was Maikel Moreno, a Maduro ally who became president of the 32-judge court in February. But near-daily anti-government protests were triggered by the ruling and have continued across the country, with more than 40 people killed.
In a press briefing earlier in the day, President Trump called the situation in Venezuela “a very, very disgusting problem”.
US President Donald Trump and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos discussed Venezuela’s “deteriorating situation” at a White House meeting on Thursday.
In Tachira, teenager Jose Francisco Guerrero was shot dead during the spate of looting, his relatives said.
In March, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, expressed to his country’s chief rabbi, Isaac Cohen, “the desire to establish full relations with the State of Israel” eight years after the South American nation expelled its Israeli ambassador.
Maduro is pushing to resolve the crisis by convening a special assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution. More than 2,000 people have been detained and hundreds injured during nearly daily protests.
“We’ve made it clear to Maduro and his thugs that their actions are not going to go unpunished”, Republican Sen.
“The United States has shed light on the plan it is leading to intervene in Venezuela”, she said.
The Treasury Department has in the past sanctioned Venezuela n officials or former officials, charging them with trafficking or corruption.