Jeffries Refuse to Apply Santos Standard in Ousting Indicted Rep. Cuellar

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(Luis Cornelio, Headline USA) House Democratic leadership has thrown their support behind embattled Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, amid mounting pressure for his resignation following a damning federal indictment against him and his wife.

On Friday, DOJ accused Cuellar of taking $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities in exchange for political favors, igniting demands for his immediate resignation. 

However, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is backing Cuellar despite his previous support for the removal of former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who faced DOJ charges related to alleged campaign finance violations.

Jeffries, who previously endorsed Santos’s expulsion prior to any conviction, now asserts that Cuellar deserves due process and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Notably, both Cuellar and Jeffries had voted in favor of expelling Santos from Congress. 

“Henry Cuellar has admirably devoted his career to public service and is a valued Member of the House Democratic Caucus,” said Jeffries spokesperson Christie Stephenson on Friday.

“Like any American, Congressman Cuellar is entitled to his day in court and the presumption of innocence throughout the legal process,” Stephenson added.

These remarks are at odds with how Jeffries characterized Santos just five months ago, when the House voted to expel the New York Republican.

“George Santos has finally been held accountable by a strong bipartisan majority for his egregiously unprecedented, unethical and unlawful behavior,” Jeffries said on Dec. 1. “He is a serial fraudster who conducted himself in a manner unbecoming of the House of Representatives.”

Leading the chorus for Cuellar’s resignation are Reps. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., and Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., with Lawler having been among the Republicans spearheading Santos’s removal. 

“If you’ve been indicted by the DOJ, you should resign for the good of the institution,” Lawler said, as reported to the New York Post.  

“Everyone has a right to their day in court, but with trust in Congress at an all-time low we must hold members to a higher standard and put the integrity of the institution above all other considerations,” he added.

Echoing Lawler’s stance, Van Drew underscored the serious nature of the allegations against Cuellar. 

“What concerns Americans most when it comes to corruption is influence peddling, that he would sell the United States down the river to make financial gains for himself,” Van Drew noted. 

“I think he’s not going to be able to really function with this huge dark cloud over him,” he concluded. 

In contrast to Jeffries’s stance, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., urged Cuellar to step down from office in light of the indictment. 

“While the bar for federal indictment is high, trust in our government is low,” Phillips tweeted. “That’s why office holders and candidates under indictment should resign or end their campaigns, including [senator] Bob Menendez, Donald Trump & [congressman] Henry Cuellar.” 

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