GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz has apologized to former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen for threatening him ahead of his testimony Wednesday in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, according to a report from The Hill.
Fears among Trump supporters about Cohen spilling more details about his presidential conduct turned out to be true as the former fixer revealed a number of astonishing things about Trump’s Moscow deal, his family’s role in the discussions, and the chain of events after former FBI director James Comey’s dismissal, among other things. He also called Trump a “racist” and a “con man” who participated in criminal activity during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Gaetz, who is the U.S. representative from Florida, posted a threatening tweet on Twitter before the testimony, suggesting that Cohen’s wife will leave him while he spends time in prison.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 — Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” Gaetz tweeted.
“Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”
Not surprisingly, the tweet drew widespread condemnation, with Democratic lawmakers arguing that Gaetz’s post amounted to witness intimidation. Gaetz initially refuted the accusations, saying it was witness “testing,” not tampering. But more pressure built on Gaetz as the Florida Bar opened an investigation into his tweet.
“If rules have been violated, The Florida Bar will vigorously pursue appropriate discipline by the Florida Supreme Court,” spokesperson Francine Walker said in a statement, as reported by The Daily Beast. “The Florida Bar takes its responsibility of regulating lawyer conduct very seriously.”
— The Hill (@thehill) February 28, 2019
Following the unrelenting pressure, Gaetz finally apologized for his tweet, according to The Hill. The U.S. representative from Florida first apologized early Wednesday, saying it was “NOT my intent to threaten [Cohen], as some believe I did.”
But that didn’t seem to satisfy Democratic lawmakers, who pressed ahead with the demands of an investigation into whether or not Gaetz tampered with a witness through his tweet, and if Gaetz, a licensed attorney in the state, violated professional conduct rules with his tweet. Following the end of the first day of Michael Cohen’s testimony, Gaetz apologized again – this time in clearer terms. In a tweet, he asked fellow Republicans to leave Cohen’s family alone.
“I’ve personally apologized to @MichaelCohen212 4 referencing his private family in the public square. Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself. Let’s leave the Cohen family alone.”
It remains to be seen if Gaetz faces further action, but the backlash and the subsequent investigation into his tweet would be warning signs for other lawmakers who often use social media to make a point.