As significant as Washington’s announcement might be, it potentially puts the Trump administration in a difficult position: What happens if Maduro arrests Guaido, 35, and crushes the protests? Also, how or will the administration funnel support to Guaido? If Guaido names new ambassadors to capitals that recognize him as the new leader, how will the international community deal with two rival power centers in Caracas? (In a sign of the messiness to come, Maduro cut off all ties with the United States and gave U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded on Twitter, saying Washington did not consider Maduro to have the legal authority to do so.)…

The administration official said the U.S. retained “a tremendous amount of leverage” with sanctions. He also said the U.S. would deal with Guaido and the National Assembly on economic transactions. That would, in theory, include oil revenues, the lifeblood of the Venezuelan economy, but again, how, is uncertain. Although the U.S. has previously imposed sanctions and travel restrictions on Venezuelan officials, the Trump administration has refrained from imposing sanctions on Maduro personally. Washington has also so far avoided going after the country’s oil industry—a step that would starve Maduro and his allies, but would also strangle the country’s citizens. (Reuters reported the U.S. was considering imposing oil-related sanctions soon.)