May 5, 2024

Rep. Dean Phillips calls on Rep. Henry Cuellar to resign in wake of indictment

Democrats are well-known for their unwillingness to break ranks even amid scandal, but one lawmaker on the left has stepped forward to request the resignation of an embattled colleague.

As The Hill reports, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) has called on recently indicted Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) to step down after the announcement of charges by the Justice Department on allegations of bribery and money laundering.

Cuellar indicted

As NBC News reported last week, Cuellar and his wife, Imelda, were indicted by the DOJ on charges stemming from their ties to a Mexican bank and an Azerbaijani oil and gas firm.

The indictment documents allege that between the years of 2014 to 2021, the couple received approximately $600,000 in bribe payments from the foreign entities, doing so in exchange for the lawmaker's cooperation with regard to official acts over which he had influence.

Representatives from the Justice Department stated, “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 went on, “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,” the agency continued.

Phillips weighs in

Responding to the news of Cuellar's legal predicament, Phillips stepped forth to become the first in his party to call on the Texas lawmaker to step down from his position.

Taking to X to make his feelings known, Phillips wrote, “While the bar for Federal indictment is high, trust in our government is low.”

“That's why office holders and candidates under indictment should resign or end their campaigns, including Sen. Bob Menendez, Donald Trump, & Rep. Henry Cuellar,” Phillips added.

Rare displays of conviction

Phillips was an equal opportunity critic in his statement about Cuellar, also including presumptive GOP presidential nominee Trump in those he believes should step out of political life amid criminal indictment.

However, he is not the only one in his party who has made a similarly principled statement, with Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) having boldly demanded the resignation of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) last year upon his indictment on bribery charges.

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