Is the FBI raid on Cuellar a part of an investigation into Azerbaijan corruption?

Harry Cabluck

Rep. Henry Cuellar’s campaign office in Laredo and his house were raided by the FBI on Wednesday. FBI agents served a search warrant at his home in Laredo before entering the home. At the time, all that was being said was that the law enforcement activity was “court-authorized.”

A local reporter tweeted out the raid at his home with little information. Neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice is giving the reason for the searches. The FBI left the house and campaign office carrying boxes and computers. The FBI now says that a wide-ranging investigation is being conducted in Washington, D.C. which includes a federal grand jury. Last night ABC News broke some news in the story – there is a federal probe into the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen,

It is not clear if Cuellar, a moderate Democrat who represents Texas’ 28th Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, is a target of the grand jury’s probe.

The FBI on Wednesday raided Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar’s home and campaign office in Texas as part of a wide-ranging federal probe relating to the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the matter, but it’s unclear if Cuellar is a target of the grand jury’s probe, ABC News was told.

Cuellar has been in Congress sine 2005 and is co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus. He has met with Azerbaijan officials, including the ambassador of Azerbaijan, Elin Suleymanov.

Rep. Cuellar is up for re-election. The date for the primary on March 1. The timing of all this is fishy, if you ask me. The raids happened only hours after Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer endorsed Cuellar for re-election. Cuellar is frequently targeted by progressives who accuse Cuellar of being too conservative, particularly on issues like border security, illegal immigration, and abortion. He is a rare pro-life Democrat in Congress. Cuellar has been a thorn in the side of the Biden administration when it comes to the Biden border crisis. He is frequently on television doing interviews where he speaks about the need for securing the border and has offered invitations to Kamala and DHS Secretary Mayorkas to tour the border with him to see what is going on. Needless to day, both have ignored him. Cuellar recently said he has given up on getting the attention of Kamala or her office staff.

Progressive Democrats want to replace Cuellar with far-left candidate Jessica Cisneros, an immigration and human rights attorney. She’s on social media boasting about new followers now.

Her campaign announced the endorsement of AOC. Cisneros challenged Cuellar in 2020 but obviously lost to him in the primary. His seat is targeted by the progressive wing of the party, as it was last cycle. The district in the Rio Grande Valley leans more conservative than other Democrat-held districts and Cuellar has been a good fit.

Cisneros launched her campaign against Cuellar in August. She’s 28 years old and garnered the support of the likes of Elizabeth Warren, AOC, and Justice Democrats in 2020. The race was close, certainly closer than normal for Cuellar. He won by just 3 points in the 2020 primary. So, progressives targeted the district this cycle. However, with the monumental failures of the Biden administration and his very low poll numbers, Republicans have their eye on the district, too. A red tsunami is predicted for the midterm elections and Republicans have a glimmer of hope to take the seat. While Cisneros collects endorsements from far-left PACs and Democrats, Republicans are working to be competive.

One reporter who analyses political races said that progressives should be careful with what they wish for. If Cisneros knocks out Cuellar this time, a Republican could win the seat in November. With the political atmosphere as it is today and Republicans likely to do very well in November, it seems crazy to tempt fate. This is Texas. Republicans have been making good progress in the Rio Grande Valley in recent elections and Hispanic voters are moving toward Republican candidates.

Has Cuellar fallen into “caviar diplomacy”?

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.

I’m keeping an eye on this story. It’s all a little too convenient how it has unfolded. Cuellar’s professional integrity hasn’t been called into play prior to this. And, just like other potentially politically motivated investigations, the reporters were quickly on the scene and recording video. Stay tuned.