Matt Gaetz Under Investigation By Florida Bar For Threatening Cohen On Social Media
Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation by the Florida Bar Association for politically charged and threatening comments he directed toward Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, the day before his scheduled testimony on Capitol Hill.
It is unclear what action, if any, the Florida Bar may take, but representatives of the bar said that they were delving into his recent comments aimed at Cohen, penned by Gaetz from earlier in the week on Twitter.
“Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat,” Gaetz tweeted out to Cohen on Tuesday. “I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”
Many on social media were quick to point out that Gaetz’s comments seemed to amount to witness tampering, suggesting that the lawmaker was trying to influence Cohen to think twice on some of his answers about certain topics when he testified on Wednesday.
Gaetz himself responded to those criticisms, stating that he was engaging in “witness testing,” not tampering, according to a tweet from CBS News.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 26, 2019
Amid growing pressure, however, Gaetz acknowledged he was wrong to have sent out the initial social media posting.
“I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry,” Gaetz wrote in a separate tweet, according to USA Today.
On Wednesday, the Florida Bar, which licenses lawyers to practice law in the Sunshine State, acknowledged that they were looking into Gaetz’s tweet.
The Florida Bar is “quite aware of [Gaetz’s] comments…and we have opened an investigation,” said spokeswoman Francine Walker, according to reporting from the Daily Beast.
Gaetz told the Daily Beast through text message that he hadn’t “seen anything” regarding an investigation into his tweet earlier in the week.
During his testimony on Wednesday, Cohen explained that he feared for his family’s safety, especially due to social media comments from pro-Trump sympathizers (and from the president himself) who may instill anger in others, who in turn may act out in violent ways against the former lawyer or his family.