Congress

Gaetz apologizes after appearing to threaten Cohen

Florida congressman appeared to threaten Cohen over testimony, later deleted tweet and apologized to Pelosi

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, leaves the Monocle restaurant on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Matt Gaetz apologized for a tweet that accused President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen of infidelity and deleted the offending tweet following an admonishment by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Gaetz, a Florida Republican and ally of the president, appeared to openly intimidate Cohen less than 24 hours before Cohen publicly testifies against his old boss in the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“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...” the Florida Republican tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Gaetz later deleted it, telling Pelosi on Twitter that it was not his intent to threaten Cohen and that he “should have chosen words that better showed my intent.”

Cohen is expected to testify before two separate House committees this week that Trump directed him to commit multiple crimes. They include sending illegal hush payments to two of the president’s former mistresses, and lying to Congress about the timeline of negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen's attorney said Tuesday that the tweet contained “despicable lies” and “personal smears” that should be repudiated by Gaetz’s colleagues in Congress.

“We will not respond to @RepMattGaetz despicable lies & personal smears, except to say we trust that his colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, will repudiate his words & his conduct,” Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, tweeted Tuesday.

Asked if Gaetz’s tweet constituted a threat to Cohen to cancel his testimony, the congressman’s spokeswoman said her boss’s tweet “speaks for itself. Thanks!”

Cohen pleaded guilty last year to multiple charges of financial fraud and one count of lying to Congress. He is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.