May 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump interferes with House GOP messaging on Cuellar indictment

Former U.S. President Donald Trump on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 5, 2024 in Miami, United States.

Former President Trump during the F1 Grand Prix on May 5 in Miami, Fla. Photo: Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images

Former President Trump called indicted Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) a "Respected Democrat Congressman" in a Truth Social post on Sunday and argued that he was singled out because of his border policies.

Why it matters: Trump's rare defense of a vulnerable Democratic lawmaker runs counter to Republicans' desire to pressure Democrats to call for Cuellar's removal.

  • The National Republican Congressional Committee plans to accuse Democrats of a double standard if they stay mum on Cuellar following their pressure on ex-Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) to resign, Politico reports.

Driving the news: Trump wrote on Truth Social that the Department of Justice indicted Cuellar "because the Respected Democrat Congressman wouldn't play Crooked Joe's Open Border game."

  • "He was for Border Control, so they said, "Let's use the FBI and DOJ to take him out!" This is the way they operate," Trump wrote.

Catch up quick: Cuellar and his wife were indicted last week on conspiracy and bribery charges.

  • The Justice Department alleged that Cuellar took nearly $600,000 in bribes from an Azerbaijani government-controlled oil company and a Mexican bank.
  • In return, prosecutors allege that Cuellar agreed to "influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan" and advance the bank's interests in the U.S., per the indictment.

Between the lines: Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, faces four criminal indictments. He has repeatedly presented himself as the victim of politically motivated prosecutors.

What to watch: Cuellar, who has denied wrongdoing, said that he still plans to run for re-election in November.

  • At least one Democrat, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) has already called for Cuellar to resign over the charges.

Go deeper: Democratic Rep. Cuellar indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges

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