May 8, 2024 - Politics

Cuellar's indictment met with silence

Henry Cuellar holding a to-go cup of coffee and looking ahead.

Rep. Henry Cuellar. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar is getting a quiet reprieve from colleagues in both parties after being indicted over the weekend.

Why it matters: It's a marked contrast to the treatment of the two other lawmakers who have been indicted in the 118th Congress — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.).

Catch up quick: Cuellar was indicted by the Justice Department on Friday and accused of taking nearly $600,000 in bribes from an Azerbaijani government-controlled oil company and a Mexican bank.

  • Cuellar has proclaimed his innocence and said he plans to seek re-election in November.

State of play: The National Republican Congressional Committee has challenged Democrats to call for Cuellar's resignation as they did with Santos.

  • So far, just one Democrat, retiring Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), has heeded that call.

What they're saying: House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) told Axios that Cuellar is "going to get due process of law" and praised him for doing "the right thing" by stepping down from his subcommittee chairmanship.

  • A senior House Democrat predicted few Democrats will call for Cuellar's resignation.
  • But the lawmaker acknowledged "it's a problem" and said the appearance of hypocrisy with Santos is "concerning" to some Democrats.

Yes, but: House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), asked if Cuellar should resign, said: "I haven't seen any details."

Between the lines: Republicans are hamstrung by their allegiance to former President Donald Trump, who is facing four criminal indictments and has leapt to Cuellar's defense.

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