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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, has been indicted for lying to FBI


 The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry had been indicted.

A federal grand jury charged Fortenberry "with concealing information and making false statements to federal authorities who were investigating illegal contributions made by a foreign national to the congressman's 2016 re-election campaign," according to a press release from the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

The congressman is charged with one count of conspiring to falsify and hide material facts, as well as two counts of providing false statements to federal investigators, according to the indictment.

The congressman has stated that he did not lie to federal agents and has vowed to fight back.

"About five and a half years ago, a person from overseas unlawfully sent money to my campaign," Fortenberry said in a video posted to YouTube before the indictment was revealed, adding he "didn't know anything about it." In the video, Fortenberry is seen with his wife Celeste.

The congressman continues, "around two and a half years ago," FBI agents from California came knocking on his door.

"I welcomed them into my home. I responded to their inquiries. We returned later to address more queries. I told them everything I knew and understood. They have accused me of lying to them and have filed charges against me "he stated

"These charges will be fought. I didn't deceive them. I told them everything I knew "In the video, he says.

The video is accompanied by a statement from Celeste and Jeff Fortenberry that goes into greater depth about the incident. According to the report, a fundraiser for the congressman was held in 2016 and raised approximately $37,000. He was apparently unaware that a foreign national had given guests thousands of dollars to gift to him, according to the report.

The statement continues, "In 2016, a Lebanese community in Los Angeles staged a weekend of celebrations, which included a fundraiser for Jeff." "What he didn't know was that one of the participants had been offered $30,000 to deliver to Jeff by a foreign national. To put it another way, many of the gifts were made illegally. Jeff, once again, had no idea."

According to the indictment, an unknown individual, referred to in the document as "Individual H," was a co-host of a 2016 fundraiser for the lawmaker.

In the spring of 2018, Fortenberry contacted that person to suggest arranging another event, according to the indictment. According to the court complaint, the fundraiser co-host told Fortenberry during a June 2018 phone call that the $30,000 in donations "probably did come from" a foreign national.

According to the Federal Election Commission, it is illegal for campaigns to accept contributions from foreign nationals.

"Despite being informed by Individual H of the illicit gifts, defendant Fortenberry did not file an amended report with the FEC regarding the 2016 fundraiser" and "did not return or otherwise attempt to disgorge the contributions," according to the indictment. "Defendant Fortenberry did not disgorge the donations until after the FBI and USAO interviewed him in July 2019," the indictment continues.

Jeff called Trey Gowdy, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, "for counsel and legal representation," according to a statement made by the congressman and his wife. Gowdy has been contacted by CNN for comment.

The statement continues, " "Agents and prosecutors assured and reassured Jeff and Trey at every turn that Jeff was not a target. They knew he was unaware of the illicit gifts and had been a victim of the crime."

"We're taken aback.   I feel so betrayed on a personal level. I assumed we were attempting to assist "In the video, Fortenberry states. "To be accused of something is excruciatingly difficult, and we are in excruciating anguish."

Fortenberry's lawyer, John Littrell, has been contacted by CNN for comment.

Littrell is representing Fortenberry, according to Chad Kolton, a spokesman for Fortenberry's campaign.

When approached for response, Kolton, a spokeswoman for Fortenberry's campaign, directed CNN to a statement published by the congressman and his wife, as well as a video of the congressman describing the incident. "At this time, we have no plans to share any additional information," Kolton stated.

Additional information was added to this story on Tuesday.

Source: CNN politics.

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