On the eve of Michael Cohen‘s testimony before Congress, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) fired off a tweet threatening to expose alleged extra-marital “girlfriends” Cohen supposedly had. Now, the Florida Bar has opened an investigation into whether or not Gaetz’s tweet violated professional conduct rules, the Daily Beast reports.
Gaetz’s tweet, which has since been deleted, addressed Cohen personally.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” Gaetz wrote. “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…”
The tweet sparked a huge wave of backlash, prompting Gaetz to initially try to justify himself for issuing what many saw as an obvious attempt to intimidate Cohen before his testimony.
“This is what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas,” Gaetz said. He later apologized, saying that he didn’t intend the tweet as a threat.
Gaetz is a licensed attorney in the state of Florida and is a longtime ally of President Trump, who once described him as an “absolute warrior.”
“Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida is one of the finest and most talented people in Congress,” Trump wrote on Twitter in July of last year.
“Strong on crime, the border, illegal immigration, the Second Amendment, our great military and vets, Matt worked tirelessly on helping to get our massive tax cuts,” Trump added. “He has my full endorsement!”
Gaetz has been at the forefront when it comes to attacking Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia, and has repeatedly pushed the idea of a “deep state” conspiracy against the President.
The backlash to Gaetz’s tweet included many people who characterized it as someone using mafia tactics for Trump. Writing for NBC News, Glenn Kirschner said that Gaetz’s tweet was tantamount to witness tampering.
“The representative’s impressive impersonation of a mafia don aside, this public missive — especially given its timing — almost certainly constitutes witness tampering, a federal crime,” Kirschner wrote.
Federal law prohibits “tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant.”
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