Appeals Court Reverses Biden DOJ’s Conviction Of Former Republican Lawmaker – Trump News 2024


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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


A federal appeals court has thrown out the conviction of a former GOP lawmaker in a blow to President Joe Biden’s Justice Department, which many on the right believe has been politicized against them and former President Donald Trump.

Last week, the appeals panel overturned the conviction of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) for lying to the FBI regarding an illegal campaign contribution, with judges ruling that he was not tried in the proper venue.

In 2022, a jury in Los Angeles convicted the former GOP lawmaker for making false statements during interviews in Washington, D.C., and in Nebraska, The Hill reported.

The outlet added that he resigned his congressional seat and was sentenced to two years of probation, fined $25,000, and 320 hours of community service. The Hill said that last week’s appeals court ruling reversed the sentence, though Fortenberry could reportedly still be retried.

“Fortenberry’s trial took place in a state where no charged crime was committed, and before a jury drawn from the vicinage of the federal agencies that investigated the defendant,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Donato, who sat on the appeals court by designation.

“The Constitution does not permit this. Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue,” the 23-page opinion added.

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The Hill noted further:

Authorities charged Fortenberry after interviewing him, as they investigated a $30,200 donation from a Nigerian businessman to the then-congressman’s campaign at a 2016 fundraising event in California.

Federal law prohibits campaign contributions from foreign nationals to any local, state or federally elected official.

But prosecutors did not charge Fortenberry over the contribution itself, instead prosecuting him on two counts of making false statements and one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts.

Fortenberry informed FBI investigators that he had no knowledge of any illegal campaign contributions. However, court filings indicate that the bureau had intercepted a prior phone call in which a cooperating witness informed the then-congressman that the Nigerian businessman was likely the source of the donation.

The federal district trial judge permitted the case to proceed in California, allowing a jury trial. The judge ruled that a violation of false statements could occur not only where they are made but also where they impact a federal investigation. The investigation into the campaign donation was conducted by the FBI’s field office in Los Angeles.

“We conclude that an effects-based test for venue of a Section 1001 offense has no support in the Constitution, the text of the statute, or historical practice,” wrote Donato, an Obama appointee.

Also on the panel were Circuit Judges Gabriel Sanchez and Salvador Mendoza Jr., who were both appointed by President Biden, The Hill noted.

“We are gratified by the Ninth Circuit’s decision. Celeste and I would like to thank everyone who has stood by us and supported us with their kindness and friendship,” Fortenberry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, several legal analysts have questioned the tactics of special counsel Jack Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Trump over his retention of classified documents after leaving office and any improper role he may have played in fomenting the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Smith has since charged Trump in both of those cases.

The D.C. Court of Appeals, meanwhile, suggested on Tuesday that it may consider the constitutionality of special counsel Jack Smith’s appointment as well as other issues, including the timing of former President Donald Trump’s presidential immunity appeal.

The court issued an order on Tuesday, instructing parties to be ready to address “discrete issues” raised in amicus briefs during the oral arguments on January 9, the Daily Caller reported.

The upcoming arguments pertain to Trump’s attempt to dismiss his 2020 election case based on presidential immunity.

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