A Florida congressman posted a taunting message to President Donald Trump's former lawyer on Tuesday.
Less than 18 hours before Michael Cohen was scheduled to begin his testimony, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted at him, “Hey @MichaelCohen212 - Do your wife and 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...”
As the tweet was spread by both supporters and opponents of Gaetz’ message, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted a few hours later that members of Congress should be mindful of the comments they make on social media and that “the Committee on Ethics should vigilantly monitor these types of statements, which may not be protected by the speech or debate clause.”
I encourage all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties. https://t.co/NDnxkaiFCA pic.twitter.com/DIIgSHgeb5
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 26, 2019
Gaetz shared Pelosi’s statement with an apology and, then, deleted his original message to Cohen.
Speaker, I want to get the truth too. While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry. https://t.co/Rdbw3sTQJD
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 27, 2019
That did not stop calls for action on what many felt was witness tampering on the part of Gaetz, and the Democratic Coalition tweeted its intent to file a House Ethics complaint on the matter Wednesday.
— Democratic Coalition (@TheDemCoalition) February 27, 2019
Gaetz represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District, covering most of the panhandle, but he was not a member of the House Oversight Committee that questioned Cohen on Wednesday. Despite that, he was in the room, and images of him standing off to the side quickly circulated on social media.
As others have pointed out, Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican who posted *that* tweet about Cohen yesterday, is here. He's not on the committee, just standing against the wall. Here he is after going over to tell a member something. pic.twitter.com/bwBDbFdBRl
— Emma Loop (@LoopEmma) February 27, 2019
His opponents say that physical presence bolstered claims of witness tampering and intimidation.
Instead of doing his job, Matt Gaetz is inside the hearing room for the Oversight Committee. This is more witness tampering. He needs to be removed from the hearing and then from Congress. Then he needs to be arrested. This is ridiculous. Photo via @lawindsor pic.twitter.com/3jpdDoCAPL
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) February 27, 2019