Facing backlash for a tweet in which he appeared to intimidate Michael Cohen by accusing him of marital infidelity, Rep. Matt Gaetz is now urging supporters to “leave the Cohen family alone.”
“Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself,” Gaetz tweeted Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, on the eve of President Donald Trump’s former fixer’s appearance before the House Oversight Committee, the Florida Republican appeared to try to intimidate Cohen by asking if his wife knew about his “girlfriends.”
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.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 28, 2019
Republicans had sought to undermine Cohen’s credibility and cast doubt on his testimony against the president before the Oversight hearing on Wednesday. But some critics said Gaetz’s threat went further, and might have constituted witness tampering.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212,” Gaetz tweeted, tagging Cohen’s Twitter handle. “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...”
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a New Jersey Democrat, suggested that Gaetz’s tweet should be taken up by the House Committee on Ethics, saying his action was “grossly unethical and probably illegal.”
The Florida Bar, of which Gaetz is a member, has opened an investigation.
“Any time the words or actions of a Florida lawyer result in complaints, The Florida Bar will fully investigate those complaints through its established grievance process to determine if Bar rules have been violated,” Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Andía Walker said.
Gaetz called the investigation “frivolous.”
“It seems that The Florida Bar, by its rules, is required to investigate even the most frivolous of complaints,” his office said in a statement.
Gaetz, an ally of Trump, was at one point present in the Oversight Committee hearing room on Wednesday.
Chris Cioffi and Griffin Connolly contributed to this report
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