Former President Donald Trump came to the defense of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, in a Tuesday evening statement after the lawmaker was indicted by a federal grand jury.
The lawmaker was charged with a single count of plotting to conceal material facts and two counts of lying to federal investigators after he allegedly hid information about illegal contributions to his 2016 campaign, The Hill reported.
In defending Fortenberry, Trump referenced former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired, and his 2016 Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, whom he defeated, both of whom he accused of being dishonest to federal investigators, as well as many members of Congress, though they suffered no consequences.
“Isn’t it terrible that a Republican Congressman from Nebraska just got indicted for possibly telling some lies to investigators about campaign contributions, when half of the United States Congress lied about made up scams,” Trump said in his statement, before moving on to mention Comey and Clinton specifically.
“[T]hey made up fairy tales about me knowing how badly it would hurt the U.S.A.—and nothing happens to them. Is there no justice in our Country?” Trump concluded.
For his part, Fortenberry said he is innocent of the charges and vowed to contest them vigorously.
“We will fight these charges. I did not lie to them,” Fortenberry said. “This is wrong on so many levels.”
The lawmaker allegedly received $30,000 from Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury in 2016 and allegedly learned about the donation two years later. Under campaign finance laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to give money to U.S. political campaigns. The Hill said that “the money was allegedly circumvented so the individual donor limit could be surpassed.”
Afterward, federal officials say that Fortenberry lied to agents when they asked him if he was aware of the donation and whether he actively sought to cover it up.
For his part, Trump has regularly accused both Clinton and Comey of lying to federal investigators.
Trump fired Comey in May 2017, then claimed after Comey testified before Congress the following month that the former FBI director lied to lawmakers when he said the president asked him for “loyalty.”
“No, I didn’t say that,” Trump told reporters during a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Rose Garden. When asked if he would state that under oath, he said, “100 percent.”
Trump accused Comey of repeatedly lying to Congress again following testimony in December 2018.
“On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked. Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) – didn’t know who signed off and didn’t know Christopher Steele. All lies,” he noted at the time.
He went on to speculate that Comey “must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day.”
Trump also accused Clinton of lying to the FBI during remarks to reporters in December 2017.
“Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI. Nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they destroyed his life. I think it’s a shame,” Trump said regarding his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
“Hillary Clinton, on the Fourth of July weekend, went to the FBI, not under oath. It was the most incredible thing anyone’s ever seen. She lied many times; nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and they ruined his life. It’s very unfair,” he said.
Comey would later say that the FBI had “no basis” to conclude that Clinton had been dishonest during that interview.