A federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry on Tuesday October 19, after the lawmaker put out a defiant YouTube video featuring his wife and dog in front of a cornfield where he vowed to fight the charges.
The indictment charges the nine-term Republican with one count of ‘scheming to falsify and conceal material facts’ and two counts of making false statements to to the FBI, according to the Los Angeles US Attorney’s office.
The office said Fortenberry made the false statements to agents looking into illegal campaign contributions to his 2016 reelection effort.
According to the indictment, Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, despite being a foreign national prohibited from donating to US candidates, ‘arranged’ for $30,000 in contributions to Fortenberry in 2016.
Chagoury entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2019 and admitted to providing illegal contributions to four American candidates.
The co-host of the Fortenberry 2016 fundraiser where the money came in, identified only as ‘Individual H,’ began cooperating with the feds in September 2016, telling agents about the illegal contributions.
H informed special agents about the third-party contributions and began working with federal authorities in September 2016. During the investigation, they examined whether the congressman received the funds and whether he knew about it.
In the spring of 2018, Fortenberry contacted the co-host to organize another fundraiser when the individual allegedly told him about the illegal campaign contributions provided by an associate of Chagoury.
The congressman is accused of making false and misleading statements to investigators during interviews about the funds despite being warned it’s a crime to lie to the federal government. Each of the three felonies Fortenberry’s faces carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Trump who’s still banned from Facebook and Twitter, has now released a statement through his Save America PAC Tuesday night, defending Fortenberry hours after his indictment by a federal grand jury.
He stated that Mark Zuckerberg is a “criminal” for being allowed to spend $500 million and therefore able to change the course of a Presidential Election.
‘Isn’t it terrible that a Republican Congressman from Nebraska just got indicted for possibly telling some lies to investigators about campaign contributions, when half of the United States Congress lied about made up scams.
‘And when Mark Zuckerberg, in my opinion a criminal, is allowed to spend $500 million and therefore able to change the course of a Presidential Election, and nothing happens to them.
‘Comey lied, Schiff lied, Crooked Hillary lied, McCabe lied, the two lovers, Peter and Lisa, lied. They all lied having to do with Russia, Russia, Russia, because they knew it was a SCAM, and they all lied having to do with Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, because they knew it was a SCAM.
‘They made up fairy tales about me knowing how badly it would hurt the U.S.A.—and nothing happens to them. Is there no justice in our Country?’
Trump’s comments refer to a number of politicians and former government employees who he believes tried to undermine his presidency by speaking out against him.