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DOJ expected to announce indictment of Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, sources say

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department is expected to announce the indictment of longtime Rep. Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, on Friday, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Cuellar’s home and campaign office in Laredo, Texas, were raided in January 2022 as part of a federal investigation into Azerbaijan and a group of American businessmen with ties to that country, the police then declared. His office pledged to cooperate with the investigation. In April, Cuellar’s attorney, Joshua Berman, told some media outlets that federal authorities had informed him that he was not a target of the investigation.

Cuellar is a former co-chair of the Azerbaijani Congressional Caucus.

It was not immediately clear whether the indictment was related to the 2022 raid. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Cuellar’s staff called other member offices Friday to seek advice on how to handle the situation, a source with knowledge of those calls told NBC News.

In a statement Friday, Cuellar denied any wrongdoing, saying he had “proactively sought legal advice” from the House Ethics Committee, which had issued “more than one written opinion” on the matter . Much of his statement focused on his wife, Imelda Cuellar, although it was not immediately clear why.

“I want to be clear that my wife and I are innocent of these allegations. Everything I did in Congress was to serve the people of South Texas,” Cuellar said in his statement, later adding, “The actions I took in Congress were consistent with those of many of my colleagues and in America’s interest. people …”

“Imelda and I have been married for 32 years. In addition to being an amazing wife and mother, she is an accomplished businesswoman with two degrees. She has spent her career working in banking, tax and consulting “, he continued. “The allegation that she is anything but qualified and hardworking is both false and offensive.”

The defiant Cuellar also made it clear he would seek re-election: “Let me be clear, I’m running for office and I will win next November.”

A year after the search of his home – which previously resulted in no arrests or charges – Cuellar told the Texas Tribune: “There was no wrongdoing on my part. … My goal has remained the same since my first day in office: to produce results for the Texans in my district.”

Despite the raid, Cuellar narrowly defeated a progressive challenger, Jessica Cisneros, in her 2022 primary and was subsequently re-elected to her seat in November. He did not face a primary challenger this year and will be on the ballot in November to seek his 11th term in Congress.

Two years ago, Cuellar easily defeated Republican candidate Cassy Garcia, 57% to 43%. His district became bluer when it took over parts of San Antonio following redistricting. But this indictment will make Cuellar more vulnerable than in the past. Two Republicans will face off in a runoff election in late May for a chance to take on Cuellar in the fall.

Cuellar, 66, an attorney, is a former customs broker and Texas secretary of state. A member of the centrist Blue Dogs and NDP coalition, Cuellar was elected to the House in 2004.

He is the only Democrat in Congress to oppose abortion rights – a position that has infuriated many in his party.

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