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U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (left) appears at a public event.
The FBI search of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar's home
weeks before an election suggests a probe has been going on for a prolonged period or is moving quickly based on "very serious allegations," a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas told the Express-News
Ryan Patrick, who served as a U.S. attorney during the Trump presidency, told the daily that federal attorneys general typically avoid public actions that could skew the outcome of an election.
“To get the point where you’re running a search on a sitting congressman — that’s a pretty big deal,” said Patrick, now partner at law firm Haynes and Boone LLP. “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.”
The FBI's search of Cuellar's Laredo home Wednesday comes ahead of the March 1 Democratic primary. The moderate South Texas Democrat, whose district includes part of San Antonio, faces a challenge from progressive Jessica Cisneros, who ran a close primary campaign
to unseat him in 2020.
Federal officials have been mum on what they're investigating, and Cuellar's office has said it “will fully cooperate" with the examination.
Patrick also told the Express-News
that the public search of a congressman's home suggests prosecutors have already assembled much of the evidence they need to build a case. He added that the move implies high-ranked officials — perhaps including Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco — gave the search a green light.
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