House

Pelosi backs Cuellar, says ‘I don’t know what it is’ of FBI raid

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds her weekly press conference, discussing Ukraine and COVID-19 relief funding on Thursday, March 17, 2022.
Anna Rose Layden

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reiterated her support for Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) as he faces a serious primary challenge from the left and said that she did not know why the FBI searched his home in January.

“I support my incumbents. I support every one of them from right to left. That is what I do,” Pelosi said at a press conference in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, adding that she supports Cuellar specifically in his primary runoff.

Cuellar’s home was raided by the FBI in January, with ABC News and CBS News reporting that the activity was connected to a probe of businessmen in the U.S. and Azerbaijan. Cuellar, who has served as co-chair of the House Azerbaijan Caucus, asserted that he would cooperate with any investigation and that it would show there was no wrongdoing on his part.

Pelosi, though, said that she did not know what was behind the raid. “I don’t know what it is. I haven’t seen anything,” she said. “I haven’t seen it, and I haven’t known.”

The FBI activity came weeks before the Texas primary election on March 1, in which Cuellar came in about 2 points ahead of a progressive challenger, immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros. Cuellar and Cisneros advanced to a May 24 runoff.

It is the second time Cuellar, a moderate Democrat, has faced a challenge from Cisneros, who is backed by progressive heavyweights including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Justice Democrats, the PAC known for backing insurgent progressive Democrats known as the “squad” in the House Democratic caucus, is also backing Cisneros.

Pelosi very publicly supported and campaigned for Cuellar during that first challenge from Cisneros in 2020, traveling to his campaign headquarters just 10 days before the primary, the Texas Tribune reported at the time.

“You know, it’s a primary, and God bless everyone,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “Hopefully, that will be a Democratic district. I’m all about winning the Congress for the — for the American people. I think democracy is on the ballot, and that we all have our difference — differences and disagreements. But the fact is, we should all agree that democracy should prevail.”

Cuellar has represented Texas’s 28th District, stretching from San Antonio south through the Rio Grande valley to the border with Mexico, since 2005. It is a top target for Republicans in the 2022 midterm cycle.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Democratic primaries Elizabeth Warren Nancy Pelosi Texas

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