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Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) on Wednesday stepped down from his committee assignments after being indicted for lying to federal investigators amid a probe into illegal campaign donations.

What they're saying: In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Fortenberry said he is "grateful for the outpouring of support from my friends and colleagues as we work against the injustice confronting me."

  • The nine-term congressman cited GOP conference rules that members indicted on felony charges that may result in two or more years in prison must step down from their committees.
  • Fortenberry stressed that the move is "temporary," and concluded his letter by stating, "I look forward to taking up these committee assignments again once this matter is resolved."
  • Fortenberry serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and is ranking member of an Appropriations subcommittee overseeing agriculture and rural development.

The big picture: A federal grand jury charged Fortenberry with making false statements to the FBI about his knowledge of illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire.

  • The Department of Justice said in a statement Fortenberry failed to report the contributions when he allegedly learned of them in 2018, and that he told investigators in 2019 he was not aware of the contributions.
  • Fortenberry denied the charge in a YouTube video reported by Axios' Lachlan Markay, in which he stated, "I did not lie to them" and vowed to "fight these charges."

Go deeper

McCarthy: Gosar, Greene could get on "better" committees after midterms

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday that Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) would get their committee assignments back if Republicans take the House majority in 2022.

The big picture: Gosar and Greene are the only two House Republicans to lose committee seats in the 117th Congress, "which has been plagued by violence and inflammatory rhetoric both inside and outside the Capitol," Axios' Andrew Solender reports.

Updated 12 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.