Federal prosecutors disputed claims by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) that he was "set up" by FBI agents who say he "intentionally, repeatedly and proactively" lied to them.
The Central California U.S. District Attorney's Office filed court briefs Tuesday asking a judge to reject defense attorneys' motions to dismiss three felony indictments against Fortenberry, who has been charged with misleading or lying to investigators, reported the Lincoln Journal Star.
"Contrary to defendant's revisionist and misleading re-tellings, the only person who 'set up' defendant for this prosecution was defendant himself," prosecutors said in the brief.
A spokesman for Fortenberry's re-election campaign claimed the FBI instructed an informant to call the lawmaker in 2018 to tell him that $30,000 in contributions he had received in 2016 were illegal, which he says Fortenberry didn't know.
"That is a set-up, pure and simple," the spokesman said.
Fortenberry claims he was trying to help the FBI probe illegal campaign donations from a Nigerian billionaire living in Paris, but prosecutors say he lied repeatedly after he was told in the 2018 phone call that donations he received at a Los Angeles fundraiser probably came from a foreign national.
The indictments allege that Fortenberry lied about knowing the donations were illegal during two 2019 interviews with FBI investigators.