Rep. Matt Gaetz went after Michael Cohen Tuesday, asking if his wife knew about his “girlfriends” just a day before President Trump’s former lawyer was scheduled to testify publicly before a House committee.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” tweeted the Florida Republican, a staunch Trump ally.
“Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat,” Gaetz added. “I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot.”
Cohen began a schedule three-day marathon testimony before Congress on Wednesday starting with the House Oversight Committee about what he learned in a decade at the Trump Organization.
Gaetz told the Daily Beast after the tweet went viral that it was in no way meant to be a threat.
It is challenging the veracity and character of a witness,” Gaetz said. “We do it everyday. We typically do it during people’s testimony.”
Gaetz added, “This is what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas.”
Despite his claims, legal experts told the website that the congressman’s tweet could still get him in trouble.
“It’s that last line that seems really problematic,” said Stephen Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
“‘She’s about to learn a lot…’ What is the test implied in that statement, as opposed to the insinuation that as a result of his testimony, his wife is going to come into negative information about him?”
GOP congressman Matt Gaetz, [photo], a Trump supporter is defending his ‘less than decorous tweet’, saying ‘his comments were appropriate seeing how the former Trump attorney is heading to jail and his marriage could be affected’
Gaetz wouldn’t say whether he had any evidence against Cohen, but he claimed his comments were appropriate seeing how the former Trump attorney is heading to jail and his marriage could be affected.
“If you think I have the power to determine when people leave their spouses you attribute far too much credit to me,” Gaetz told the Beast. “I just merely pondered the question.”
Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, issued a statement saying: “We will not respond to Mr. Gaetz’s despicable lies and personal smears, except to say we trust that his colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, will repudiate his words and his conduct.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) urged the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz for trying to intimidate a witness.
“One of my colleagues, a duly elected member of Congress, has taken to twitter to intimidate a witness. This is grossly unethical and probably illegal (18 USC § 1512(b)),” Pascrell tweeted, invoking the US code on witness tampering.