GOP congressman convicted for lying to federal agents
Why it matters: The verdict marks a stunning fall from grace for Fortenberry, who is likely to resign or be expelled from the House after serving for nearly two decades in Congress.
- Fortenberry gave up his seat on the House Appropriations Committee after he was indicted in October, in accordance with GOP conference rules.
Driving the news: A federal jury in California found Fortenberry guilty of three felonies: two counts of making false statements and one count of falsifying and concealing materials.
- Prosecutors accused Fortenberry of repeatedly lying to FBI agents about $30,000 in illegal contributions from Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury.
- According to the Justice Department, Fortenberry was informed by an associate of the money's illicit origins but did not amend his federal election filings and later denied any wrongdoing in two interviews with the FBI.
The other side: Fortenberry has publicly defended himself and sought to portray the indictment as politically motivated.
- "[President] Biden’s FBI is using its unlimited power to prosecute me on a bogus charge," Fortenberry said in a fundraising video ahead of the indictment, which was reported by Axios' Lachlan Markey.
- His legal team carried that narrative into the courtroom, attempting to undercut the prosecutor by highlighting his donations to Democrats.
- His lawyers also argued that Fortenberry misremembered details of his call with the associate when speaking to investigators, but did not intend to mislead them.