California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo and former South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy testified Wednesday in defense of Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who stands accused of lying to federal prosecutors about receiving foreign funds to support his political reelection campaign.
Fortenberry, 61, plead not guilty to charges that he purposefully misled FBI agents and prosecutors investigating a $30,000 donation made in 2016 from a Nigerian-born billionaire, according to the Associated Press. (RELATED: GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Charged After Allegedly Lying To Feds)
Federal grand jury indictment charges U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry with one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators looking into illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign. Full announcement coming.
— US Attorney L.A. (@USAO_LosAngeles) October 19, 2021
Silicon Valley’s Rep. Eshoo was the first witness in Fortenberry’s defense at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the AP continued. “I think he brings honor to what he does,” Eshoo told the federal jury. “He’s honest. His work is good. I can’t say that about all members of Congress. … My sensibility is that he brings integrity to everything he does.”
The second witness, Gowdy, told the jury that the Nebraska congressman had attempted to work with the federal prosecutors investigating the case. Gowdy noted that he left a voicemail with Assistant U.S. Attorney Mack Jenkins regarding the meeting between Fortenberry and the billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury, who sourced the donations, according to the AP.
Chagoury, a resident of Paris, agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine after he admitted to funneling $180,000 in illegal campaign contributions, the AP reported.
In a video from October 2021, Fortenberry said, “About five and a half years ago, a person from overseas illegally moved money to my campaign — I didn’t know anything about this — and used some other Americans to do so. They were all caught and punished, thankfully.”