Florida Bar moves forward on investigating Matt Gaetz over Cohen tweet

Congressman sent tweet that seemed to intimidate Trump’s former lawyer

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., will press charges against the woman accused of drilling him with a drink cup as he exited a town hall earlier this month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., will press charges against the woman accused of drilling him with a drink cup as he exited a town hall earlier this month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted May 8, 2019 at 1:18pm

The Florida Bar is moving forward with an investigation of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz over a tweet that appeared to be an attempt to intimidate President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Gaetz sent the tweet a day before Cohen testified at a House committee hearing against his old boss in February.

The Bar had opened the investigation in February, and according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, the case has been referred to a grand jury-like Grievance Committee. The step indicates that the organization responsible for disciplining Florida lawyers believes more investigation is warranted. 

[Matt Gaetz under investigation by Florida Bar over Cohen tweet]

The Bar confirmed to CQ Roll Call the case is now being investigated by a grievance committee but a spokeswoman said no other information is available at this time.

If the Grievance Committee finds probable cause, it could lead to charges being filed and a trial in front of a judge. 

After the Bar receives a complaint about one of its attorneys, it first conducts a preliminary investigation, according to its website. If the complaint is deemed to be a violation, it is eventually referred to a committee in one of its five branch offices, for further investigation and potential disciplinary action. 

Gaetz has a license to practice law in Florida. 

[After bringing Cohen’s family into it, Matt Gaetz now urges supporters to leave them alone]

A day before Cohen’s public testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Gaetz tweeted: “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? 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…”

Gaetz later deleted the tweet and apologized following an admonishment by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Gaetz followed up with a tweet announcing that he had “personally” apologized to Cohen for “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,” he said.

Gaetz’s chief of staff, Jillian Lane Wyant, told CQ Roll Call, “Congressman Gaetz remains confident that the Florida Bar will not impair his vigorous and successful representation of his district.”

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Griffin Connolly contributed to this report.