Dean Phillips becomes first House Democrat to call on Rep. Cuellar to resign after indictment

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., became the first House Democrat to call on Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, to resign hours after he was indicted on bribery and money laundering charges. 

“While the bar for Federal indictment is high, trust in our government is low,” Phillips said in a statement posted to his social media. “That’s why office holders and candidates under indictment should resign or end their campaigns, including Sen. Bob Menendez, Donald Trump, & Rep. Henry Cuellar.” 

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, also a Democrat, faces obstruction of justice charges connected to bribery allegations. Former President Trump is currently on trial for alleged hush money payments he made before the 2016 election. 

DEMOCRATIC TEXAS REP HENRY CUELLAR INDICTED BY DOJ ON CONSPIRACY AND BRIBERY CHARGES

Henry Cuellar speaking

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, was indicted on bribery charges Friday.  ( Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Department of Justice indicted Cuellar and his wife Imelda on conspiracy and bribery charges Friday in connection with $600,000 in bribes they allegedly accepted between 2014 and 2021 from an Azerbaijan-based energy company and a bank in Mexico City to advance the former Soviet republic’s interests in the U.S. 

The couple have been released on bond, Fox News has confirmed. 

Federal law enforcement raided Cuellar’s house and office in 2022 as part of an investigation into a group of U.S. businessmen, and their ties to the country. The representative and his office agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Cuellar released a statement on Friday following reports of the upcoming indictment, declaring both himself and his wife as innocent without specifying the charges.

Dean Phillips on Capitol Hill

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., is the first Democrat to call fellow Democratic Rep. Cuellar to resign.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“I want to be clear that both my wife and I are innocent of these allegations,” wrote Cuellar. “Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of Texas.”

The Texas representative specifically defended his wife and her qualifications, once again without specifying the nature of the indictments.

SEN BOB MANENDEZ MAY BLAME HIS WIFE NADINE DURING FEDERAL CORRUPTION TRIAL: COURT DOCUMENTS

BOB MENENDEZ

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., also faces federal charges.  (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

“Imelda and I have been married 32 years. On top of being an amazing wife and mother, she’s an accomplished businesswoman with two degrees. She spent her career working with banking, tax, and consulting. The allegation that she is anything but qualified and hard working is both wrong and offensive,” he wrote.

Cuellar, 68, and his wife, 67, made their first court appearance on Friday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo in Houston.

“The bribe payments were allegedly laundered, pursuant to sham consulting contracts, through a series of front companies and middlemen into shell companies owned by Imelda Cuellar, who performed little to no legitimate work under the contracts,” the DOJ said of the indictments. “In exchange for the bribes paid by the Azerbaijani oil and gas company, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to use his office to influence U.S. foreign policy in favor of Azerbaijan. In exchange for the bribes paid by the Mexican bank, Congressman Cuellar allegedly agreed to influence legislative activity and to advise and pressure high-ranking U.S. Executive Branch officials regarding measures beneficial to the bank.”

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They each face two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery of a federal official and to have a public official act as an agent of a foreign principal, two counts of bribery of a federal official, two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, two counts of violating the ban on public officials acting as agents of a foreign principal, one count of conspiracy to commit concealment money laundering, and five counts of money laundering. 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Kelly Phares and Timothy H.J. Nerozzi contributed to this report. 

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