Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar protests innocence ahead of potential indictment

Officials with the US Department of Justice are yet to confirm the potential indictments against the congressman, and the charges have not been specified

Mike Bedigan
Friday 03 May 2024 20:42 BST
Comments
Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar has said he and his wife are ‘innocent’ as he faces a potential indictment by federal prosecutors on unspecified charges
Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar has said he and his wife are ‘innocent’ as he faces a potential indictment by federal prosecutors on unspecified charges (Getty Images)

Texas Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar says he and his wife are “innocent” ahead of a potential indictment by federal prosecutors on unspecified charges.

“I want to be clear that both my wife and I are innocent of these allegations,” Mr Cuellar said in a statement to ABC News. “Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas.

“Before I took action, I proactively sought legal advice from the House Ethics Committee, who gave me more than one written opinion, along with an additional opinion from a national law firm.

“Furthermore, we requested a meeting with the Washington, DC, prosecutors to explain the facts and they refused to discuss the case with us or hear our side.”

He added that the actions he took in Congress were “consistent with the actions of many of my colleagues and in the interest of the American people”.

Texas congressman Henry Cuellar is facing a potential indictment by federal prosecutors on unspecified charges
Texas congressman Henry Cuellar is facing a potential indictment by federal prosecutors on unspecified charges (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Officials with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) are yet to confirm the potential indictments.

Mr Cuellar, a conservative Democrat, has long been a target of progressives given his opposition to abortion rights. Mr Cuellar’s defenders have long said he is the only Democrat who can win in the heavily conservative Rio Grande Valley.

In 2022, the FBI raided Mr Cuellar’s congressional office in Laredo and his home. His attorney at the time said the congressman was not the target of that investigation.

That search was part of a broader investigation related to Azerbaijan that saw FBI agents serve a raft of subpoenas and conduct interviews in Washington, DC, and Texas, a person with direct knowledge of the probe previously told The Associated Press. Mr Cuellar was at one time the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus.

Federal disclosures show that the nine-term congressman travelled to Azerbaijan in 2013. Two years later, Mr Cuellar’s office announced an agreement between a Texas university and an organisation called the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan to collaborate on oil and gas research and education.

Despite the controversy surrounding the raids in 2022, Mr Cuellar went on to beat back a left-wing Democratic challenger – Jessica Cisneros – for the second time.

A year after the raid on his home the congressman told The Texas Tribune: “There has been no wrongdoing on my part... My focus remains the same from my very first day in office: delivering results for Texans across my district.”

It is not clear whether Friday’s potential indictment is related to the 2022 FBI raids.

In a brief post on X on Friday, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) wrote: “Cuellar does not put Texas first, he puts himself first. Will House Democrats call for him to RESIGN?”

Mr Cuellar has been undaunted by the controversy and has previously vowed to seek reelection to Congress in November, which would be his 11th term.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in