The Florida Bar is investigating Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz after he threatened longtime former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen ahead of his public testimony.
On Tuesday, just hours before Cohen testified before the House Oversight Committee, Gaetz posted a threat on Twitter that many legal experts quickly branded an attempt at witness intimidation.
"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..." tweeted Gaetz, a close Trump ally.
After the threat, the Florida Bar, which licenses lawyers to practice in the state, told The Daily Beast that they have opened an investigation into Gaetz’s remarks.
“If rules have been violated, The Florida Bar will vigorously pursue appropriate discipline by the Florida Supreme Court,” Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker told the outlet. “The Florida Bar takes its responsibility of regulating lawyer conduct very seriously.”
Gaetz defends tweet, then deletes and apologizes:
Gaetz initially attempted to defend the tweet, telling the Daily Beast, “This is what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas.”
After Democrats called for the House to investigate Gaetz, the congressman took down the post and apologized.
“I’ve personally apologized to @MichaelCohen212 4 referencing his private family in the public square,” he wrote. “Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself. Let’s leave the Cohen family alone.”
Attorneys say Gaetz guilty of witness tampering:
Law professors from around the country responded to Gaetz’s tweet Tuesday by urging him to invest in a lawyer.
“Does your personal attorney know you’ve just engaged, very clearly, in the crime of witness tampering?” asked New York University Law Professor Ryan Goodman. “Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat.”
“Do you know about 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b), which prohibits tampering with witnesses to official proceedings?” asked Texas University Law Professor Steven Vladeck.
“He’s also engaged in criminal witness tampering in plain sight. No immunity is available. He deserves to be indicted, and of course needs to be kicked out of Congress,” added Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe.