Rep. Cuellar denies wrongdoing amid reports of pending indictment

In a video message shared Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar affirmed he’s still in the race to keep his seat as a South Texas congressman in spite of the federal investigation conducted at his home and office last week. (Image from video)
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FBI agents conduct operations outside the home of U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Laredo.
(Valerie Gonazlez | [email protected])

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas denied any wrongdoing amid reports of pending indictments related to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

The longtime congressman released a statement Friday saying he and his wife “are innocent of these allegations.”

“Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas,” Cuellar said. “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 D.C. prosecutors to explain the facts and they refused to discuss the case with us or hear our side.”

Neither Cuellar nor his attorney immediately responded to calls seeking comment on the matter. Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately confirm the indictments.

NBC News, CNN and Fox News, all citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, reported Friday the Justice Department was expected to announce Cuellar’s indictment.

Cuellar was at one time the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus.

The FBI searched the congressman’s house in the border city of Laredo in 2022, and Cuellar’s attorney at that time said Cuellar 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, D.C., and Texas, a person with direct knowledge of the probe previously told The Associated Press. The person was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal disclosures show that the nine-term congressman traveled to Azerbaijan in 2013.

Two years later, Cuellar’s office announced an agreement between a Texas university and an organization called the Assembly of Friends of Azerbaijan for the purposes of collaborating on oil and gas research and education.