GOP lawmaker apologizes after Cohen tweet prompts allegations of witness tampering

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzSchiff told Gaetz to 'absent yourself' in fiery exchange: impeachment transcript Do Republicans understand the Constitution? Ocasio-Cortez: 'Major crime' against Katie Hill will deter other female candidates MORE (R-Fla.) late Tuesday apologized for a tweet about Michael Cohen that legal experts and Democrats suggested may constitute witness tampering on the eve of public testimony from the president's former personal attorney.

Gaetz deleted a tweet in which he suggested Cohen had not been faithful to his wife and questioned whether she would remain faithful to him while he serves a three-year prison sentence.

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The Florida congressman apologized for the tweet and said it was not his “intent to threaten.”

"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," Gaetz tweeted. "I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry."

 

The apology came in response to a statement from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Speaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings MORE (D-Calif.), who noted that lawmakers' statements "can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties."

Pelosi said in a statement that the Committee on Ethics should "vigilantly monitor" lawmakers' statements on social media.

Gaetz, who is a staunch ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE's, caused a firestorm when he issued the tweet late Tuesday afternoon attacking Cohen. 

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 — Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” Gaetz tweeted. “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…”

Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, slammed Gaetz for spreading "despicable lies and personal smears."

Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Dem lawmakers ask Twitter how it will guard against census disinformation Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm MORE (D-N.J.) called for the House Ethics Committee to launch an investigation into the “grossly unethical and probably illegal” tweet.

Gaetz initially defended the comments, insisting that he was "witness testing."

Cohen is set to testify Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, of which Gaetz is not a member.

The president's longtime personal lawyer will allege that Trump is a "conman," a "racist" and a "cheat" and that he had direct knowledge of a scheme to pay off adult-film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential race. Daniels alleges she had an affair with the president.

Cohen, who worked for years as Trump's personal attorney and fixer, was sentenced late last year to serve three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance law violations, bank fraud, tax fraud and lying to Congress about the timing of negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Trump and his allies have attacked Cohen's credibility, and the president on Wednesday morning sought to distance himself from his former associate.