The U.S. Department of Justice has made efforts in the past to avoid public investigations of officials that could sway elections.

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The FBI raid at U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s Laredo home made for a damning drama: a swarm of agents descending upon his property with a warrant in hand, emerging later with a computer and plastic bins and bags full of personal belongings.

Those optics aren’t an afterthought for the U.S. Department of Justice. Nor is the timing — which in Cuellar’s case came less than two months before the March 1 primary election. That poor political timing has raised questions among legal experts about why the Justice Department, which had to sign off on such an investigation, didn’t authorize the raid either months before this primary or later in the spring to minimize impact on the election.

“In general, the department has shied away from taking any overt investigative actions against political figures when an election is looming,” said former Justice Department official Emily Pierce….

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