GOP lawmaker apologizes after Cohen tweet prompts allegations of witness tampering

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGraham: Trump has 'all the legal authority in the world' to pardon Stone Meghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' Sunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses 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 PelosiRussian interference reports rock Capitol Hill Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fight Pelosi blasts Trump's 'dangerous' pick for intelligence chief 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 TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Gov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump Sotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administration 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 PascrellDemocrats, GOP spar over Treasury rules on Trump tax law On The Money: Economy adds 225K jobs in January, topping expectations | Appeals court tosses Dems' lawsuit over emoluments | Democrats decide against bringing back earmarks Democrat hits Mnuchin for giving Hunter Biden docs to Republicans 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.