Things are getting weird for Rep. Tony Cárdenas.
After the FBI subpoenaed his district director, reportedly to look into whether she or other staffers are working on political campaigns while on the federal payroll, the California Democrat was evasive in an impromptu hallway conversation with CQ Roll Call Tuesday night.
"I don't know more than what you guys have been trying to say in the press," Cárdenas said during a less than two-minute conversation on his way to votes.
What's been said in the press is that the FBI subpoenaed his district director, Gabriela Marquez, to ask questions about Cárdenas staffers conducting campaign-related activities on official taxpayer time.
But Cárdenas said he couldn't comment on any specifics and had no details. When CQ Roll Call posited that Cárdenas must know why Marquez was subpoenaed — she is his employee, after all — Cárdenas said he didn't. "No. I am not able to confirm any of that," he said.
When CQ Roll Call pressed Cárdenas — "You haven't talked to her at all about the subpoena?" — Cárdenas said he could only tell us he hasn't been able to confirm the details.
The two-term congressman admitted it's "frustrating" that no one is confirming why the FBI is talking to at least one of his employees, but he wasn't willing to offer more.
Finally, CQ Roll Call asked if the FBI had contacted Cárdenas. After five seconds of silence, interrupted only by an awkward gasp of laughter, Cárdenas said: "Think about that question: If they did or didn't, I mean — "
He trailed off for another moment and then asked, "What does a person say?"
Presumably the truth, CQ Roll Call answered.
After another moment of silence, with Cárdenas approaching the salvation of an elevator to end the conversation, he told CQ Roll Call that the FBI has not contacted him. "No, they haven't. That is the truth," he said.
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