A federal criminal investigation involving U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar comes just as the South Texas Democrat’s reelection campaign is heating up, with early voting beginning in less than a month in his primary rematch with immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, who narrowly lost to the longtime incumbent in 2020.
The FBI descended on Cuellar’s home and campaign headquarters in Laredo on Wednesday afternoon, conducting what the agency described as “court-authorized law enforcement activity.” Agents spent more than four hours at his home and loaded large bags, plastic bins and a computer into a federal vehicle before leaving around 11 p.m., the McAllen Monitor reported.
… “With early voting starting in a few weeks, this is obviously a big deal to do it now,” said Ryan Patrick, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas during the Trump presidency.
Patrick said he was not aware of or involved in anything related to Cuellar during his tenure, but the timing of the search of his home makes it seem like “this was a very high-level decision to make this move at this time, with this type of timing.” He said the default position for the Attorney General is to avoid taking actions that will influence the outcome of an election.
“To run a public search warrant at this stage leads me to believe that — while every investigation is run differently and has different variables — the investigation has been going on for some time or it is moving very quickly with very serious allegations,” he said.
Patrick said for a public search to be carried out at a congressman’s home or office indicates a good portion of the evidence prosecutors need to build a case has been secured and a lot of higher-up officials have signed off. He said he would not be surprised if Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco was in on the decision to move on Cuellar this week.
“To get the point where you’re running search on a sitting congressman — that’s a pretty big deal,” said Patrick, who is a partner at Haynes and Boone, LLP specializing in white collar and government defense. “Based on the proximity to the election and the way I know decisions are made in the public integrity section of the DOJ (Department of Justice), it is safe to assume that agents and prosecutors are working very quickly on this or they believe they have very serious allegations.”
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The following publications also included Ryan's comments: