Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) denied lying to the FBI after being asked about a recorded nine-minute conversation in which he was informed that tens of thousands of dollars raised at a Los Angeles fundraiser were "probably" illegal donations from a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.
"Indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) may have just staked his political career—and possibly his freedom—on a tried-and-true excuse: Bad cell phone reception," The Daily Beast reported Thursday. "Attorneys for Fortenberry, who on Thursday became the first sitting member of Congress to stand trial in 21 years, told a federal jury that what the government calls lying to the FBI could boil down to a misunderstanding stemming from 'a bad cell phone connection.'"
In October, the Department of Justice alleged that "Fortenberry repeatedly lied to and misled authorities during a federal investigation into illegal contributions to Fortenberry’s re-election campaign made by a foreign billionaire in early 2016. Gilbert Chagoury, a foreign national prohibited by federal law from contributing to any U.S. elections, arranged for $30,000 of his money to be contributed through other individuals (conduits) to Fortenberry’s campaign during a fundraiser held in Los Angeles, according to the indictment."
But Fortenberry defense attorney Glen Summers argued “He never lied to the agents,” and described the accusation as “a failed memory test.”
The judge barred remote access to this trial, so I owe a lot to the people on the ground (including the local Nebraska reporters who traveled to L.A.) @BillKellyReport @DavidEarlLive @CooperOnCourts @PaulHammelNE @bayleybischof and anyone else I may have missed— Roger Sollenberger found true love, suckers (@Roger Sollenberger found true love, suckers) 1647562396