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GOP Rep Deletes Cohen Tweet, but It's Too Late

Rep. Matt Gaetz may have engaged in witness tampering
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2019 4:54 PM CST
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, walks past the House Oversight hearing with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, on Capitol Hill in Washington,...   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – Rep. Matt Gaetz fired off a pretty threatening tweet Tuesday that he's since deleted and apologized for—but an investigation is still underway, the Washington Post reports. Gaetz's message was aimed at Michael Cohen on the eve of his congressional testimony: "Hey @MichaelCohen212—Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat," writes the Republican lawmaker. "I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot." Now Gaetz, himself licensed to practice law in Florida, is being investigated by the Florida Bar. "If rules have been violated, the Florida Bar will vigorously pursue appropriate discipline," says bar spokeswoman Francine Andía Walker.

At issue is whether Gaetz's incendiary tweet amounts to witness tampering, as Democrats and some legal experts allege. "Does your personal attorney know you’ve just engaged, very clearly, in the crime of witness tampering?" tweets Ryan Goodman, a law professor and ex-special counsel to the Defense Department. Scolded lightly by Nancy Pelosi, Gaetz quickly tweeted that "it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. ... I'm sorry." But it's far from over: A former assistant US attorney explains at NBC News that congressional hearings fall under the federal law against witness tampering. The New York Times isn't sure a social-media sting qualifies, and says lawmakers are given "wide latitude to speak while Congress is in session." More to come, no doubt. (Cohen fears "there will never be a peaceful transition of power" if President Trump loses in 2020.)

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