U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s lawyer said federal authorities have informed him that the Democrat is not the target of an investigation that led FBI agents to search the congressman’s South Texas home.
Cuellar, who’s in the midst of a reelection campaign, denied any wrongdoing in January after agents searched his house in the border city of Laredo as part of an investigation related to the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.
The congressman’s Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Joshua Berman, said Wednesday that his client is cooperating and that “the Justice Department has informed me that Congressman Cuellar is not a target of the investigation.” The statement was first reported by Fox News.
Berman’s comment comes as Cuellar, who is among the most conservative Democrats in Congress, is locked in a primary runoff with a progressive challenge: Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney. Neither got the more than 50% of the vote needed to win outright in a March primary and they will appear on the ballot again in May.
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The search of Cuellar’s home 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.
It was not immediately clear what connection the search of Cuellar’s home had to the ongoing investigation.
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.
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The FBI and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington declined to comment.