Who is Henry Cuellar? FBI raids Texas Democrat over links to Azerbaijan
Law enforcement carried out a 'court authorized' raid of the Congressman's office and home on January 19, Cuellar promised 'full cooperation' in statement
Residents of Laredo inTexas were in for a surprise on January 19, 2022, when teams of FBI agents swarmed and raided the home of US Representative Henry Cuellar. Neighbors were left stunned as law enforcement descended on the area all of a sudden, leaving many confused as to why the Texas Democrat, who's been in Congress since 2005, was suddenly being investigated. On January 20, we got an answer after some law enforcement officials broke their silence to the press.
Cuellar is amongst the handful of Democrats currently under the scanner as compared to a large number of Republicans. The biggest name is probably Matt Gaetz, with the Florida Congressman reportedly being investigated for child sex trafficking. Contrary to Gaetz's claims, he isn't being targeted by the Biden administration since that probe was originally started by Donald Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr.
According to reports, Cuellar is being investigated for his ties to Azerbaijan, and a group of American businessmen with interests in the Asian nation. He becomes the second Democrat to be accused of having ties with foreign entities after Rep. Eric Swalwell was accused of falling prey to Chinese spy Fang Fang. While the case against Swalwell remains largely theoretical and unfounded, it appears the FBI has solid proof of Cuellar's involvement with the oil-rich nation.
Who is Henry Cuellar?
The moderate Democrat has represented the Rio Grande Valley's district of Texas since 2005 and has also been serving as a co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus. In that role, he reportedly met numerous Azerbaijani officials, including their US ambassador. A native of Loredo, Cuellar graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in foreign service. He then went on to study law and opened his own law firm while also teaching part-time at Laredo State University.
He then decided to dive into politics, first running for the Texas House of Representatives. He was in the House from 987 to 2001, before being appointed as Secretary of State by then-Governor Rick Perry. After a failed attempt in 2002, he ran again for Congress in 2004 and won, beginning a long spell in the US Capitol. In fact, he's up for re-election in 2022, which could be why he's one of the few Democrats to take an outspoken stance against President Joe Biden's border policies.
Unlike some of his colleagues though, Cuellar has maintained a relatively low profile in Congress, especially in recent years, but may find it hard to win the upcoming midterms now that he's being investigated by the FBI.
Azerbaijan investigation by FBI
Insiders told ABC and CBS News that the raid on Cuellar was indeed linked to an ongoing investigation by the FBI into the former Soviet state. Currently, a federal grand jury in Washington DC is investigating the matter, but it's unclear if Cuellar is the original target of the probe. Officials also raided his campaign office as part of the warrant, but refused to comment on it beyond saying it was "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity".
Cuellar has not spoken about the raid directly, and his office released a brief statement saying, "He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld," and that he would "fully cooperate in any investigation." Since the case is being indicted via a federal grand jury, we have little information on the size and scope, or who else is being investigated.