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The FBI raid on the Texas home and campaign headquarters of Rep. Henry Cuellar is reportedly related to a criminal probe into ties between several US businessmen and the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan.
On Friday, federal agents were seen at Cuellar’s home in Laredo, photographing trucks parked outside and removing boxes, bins, bags and a computer from the house.
The FBI would only confirm that it is conducting an ‘ongoing investigation’, but a source told ABC News that the raid was related to a federal grand jury investigation into possible crimes related to Azerbaijan.
It’s still not clear whether Cuellar himself is a subject or target of the probe, and he has vowed to cooperate with any investigation.
The nine-term Democrat is co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, an obscure group dedicated to furthering relations with the oil-rich nation on the Caspian Sea.
In that role, Cuellar is known to have met repeatedly with Azerbaijan officials, including the country’s ambassador to the US, Elin Suleymanov.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (right) is seen meeting with Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the US in 2013. The FBI raid on Cuellar’s home is reportedly related to a probe into Azerbaijani activities in the US
Cuellar is co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, an obscure group dedicated to furthering relations with the oil-rich nation. He is seen right with Suleymanov in 2013
FBI agents have been spotted conducting a ‘court-authorized’ investigation at the Texas home of United States Representative Henry Cuellar, who has vowed to cooperate fully
Azerbaijan has been harshly criticized in the past for bribing foreign officials and diplomats to secure its foreign policy aims and legitimize dubious election results.
The practice is so common in the country that it is known there as ‘caviar diplomacy,’ but it is unclear whether the FBI is investigating any similar allegations in relation to Cuellar.
In a statement, the FBI remained tight-lipped about the reason for Friday’s raid, but confirmed that it was part of an ‘ongoing investigation.’
‘The FBI was present in the vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity,’ a Bureau spokesperson said.
‘The FBI cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation.’
Cuellar, who has harshly criticized the Biden administration over its border policies in the past, vowed in a statement to cooperate with any probe.
FBI agents load boxes, bins, bags and a computer from the home of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar into their vehicles in Laredo, Texas, on Wednesday
FBI agents load items including a computer from the home of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, into their vehicles on Wednesday
FBI agents have been spotted conducting a ‘court-authorized’ investigation at the Texas home of United States Representative Henry Cuellar
‘Congressman Cuellar will fully cooperate in any investigation. He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld,’ Cuellar’s office said.
Since 2004, Cuellar has represented a district that extends from the U.S. border with Mexico near McAllen to Laredo, and north to San Antonio’s eastern outskirts.
The moderate Democrat has a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Public records show that Cuellar purchased his luxurious Laredo home in 2010.
The 6,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home in a gated community is valued at $825,000 currently by Realtor.com.
Cuellar, who represents much of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for their handling of a surge of illegal crossings at the border.
Cuellar said last month that he’s done trying to work with ‘border czar’ Harris on migration issues, as Border Patrol agents continue to record a surge in encounters with people crossing the border illegally.
Federal agents were seen inside and around Cuellar’s mansion in Laredo (above in a file photo) on Wednesday, where they took photos of trucks parked in the circular drive out front
Cuellar said last month that he’s done trying to work with ‘border czar’ Harris on migration issues, after she allegedly snubbed him on her border visit (above) last year
Cuellar, who represents much of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, has been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their handling of border issues
‘I say this very respectfully to her: I moved on,’ Cuellar told The New York Times earlier in the week.
‘She was tasked with that job, it doesn’t look like she’s very interested in this, so we are going to move on to other folks that work on this issue.’
Cuellar’s gripes originated when Harris said she’d be visiting the border in June and a phone call from his office to hers went unreturned, he said.
Cuellar was also among the bloc of moderate House Democrats who sided against Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year to insist on passage of Biden’s infrastructure bill, which progressive hoped to hold back to force passage of a broader $3 trillion social spending package.
The infrastructure bill succeeded with bipartisan support, but the broader package remains stuck in Congress due to the objections of moderate Democrats.
Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives, represents a Texas district that hugs the banks of the Rio Grande River, just opposite Mexico.