Texas Representative Henry Cuellar
Texas Representative Henry Cuellar Reuters

The corruption trial against Texas Democratic Representative Henry Cuéllar has been postponed until next year, after the elections, according to a new court order.

The procedure was set to begin in July but is now scheduled for the spring of 2025, with an interim pretrial conference in December, according to The Texas Tribune. Jury selection will kick off on March 31 of next year.

Both parties in the case had requested the trial, which will take place in a federal court in Houston, be postponed. Judge Lee Rosenthal approved the motion.

Cuéllar, a multi-term Democrat, represents Texas' 28th Congressional district. The case has propelled him to the top of Republicans' top political targets list, meaning they will invest heavily in his district to increase their chances of flipping the seat in the elections.

Republicans were initially intending to focus on other races, as Cuéllar defeated opponent Cassie García by 13 percentage points in 2022. State authorities were largely muted after his indictment in early May, but positions changed after Furman won his primary runoff last week.

"Texans are fed up with Henry Cuellar's corruption — only looking out for himself as their cost of living skyrockets and the border spirals out of control. These voters are ready for new leadership, and that's what Republicans will deliver to the 28th District when we flip this seat," National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokesperson Delanie Bomar said in a statement.

Cuéllar and his wife have been accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a Mexican bank and two state-run energy companies from Azerbaijan. A House Ethics Committee voted to open an investigation on the issue.

Cuéllar again denied any wrongdoing after the announcement, saying that even though he "respects the work of the House Ethics Committee," he is "innocent of these allegations." "Everything I have done in Congress has been to serve the people of South Texas," he added.

However, three different people have already taken plea deals in the context of the case, admitting to helping the Cuéllars in the bribery schemes. One of them is Irada Akhoundova, a woman from Houston who admitted to facilitating a $60,000 payment to Imelda Cuéllar.

Cuéllar allegedly agreed to influence legislation favorable to the former Soviet republic and deliver a friendly speech on the House floor in exchange for the payments. He was at one point the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus and also traveled to the country in 2013.

The other two people who took guilty pleas are political consultants who admitted to being involved in the payments from Banco Azteca, the other entity accused of bribing Cuéllar. Between the both, the lawmaker allegedly took roughly $600,000.

In this case, Cuéllar allegedly took money from the bank in exchange for influencing the Department of Treasury to work around an anti money laundering policy that went against the bank's interests.

Cuéllar has so far refused to resign from his post and said he will continue doing his job, although he did step down from his only committee assignment.

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