Ex-Bush ethics chief: GOP lawmaker 'should be arrested' for witness tampering

Ex-Bush ethics chief: GOP lawmaker 'should be arrested' for witness tampering
© Greg Nash

Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration, called for the speedy arrest of Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGiuliani draws attention with latest trip to Ukraine Overnight Defense: Suspect in Pensacola shooting identified as Saudi aviation student | Trump speaks with Saudi king after shooting | Esper denies considering 14K deployment to Mideast Trump speaks with Saudi king after Pensacola shooting MORE (R-Fla.), accusing him of witness tampering hours after he issued what many perceived to be a threatening tweet directed at Michael Cohen on the eve of Cohen's public congressional testimony.

Gaetz drew sharpt backlash on Tuesday after posting a tweet, which has since been deleted, that suggested Cohen had not been faithful to his wife and questioned whether his wife would remain faithful to him while he serves time in prison.

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“Hey @MichaelCohen212,” Gaetz began in the tweet. “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…”

Gaetz later issued an apology for the tweet after a number of legal experts and Democrats suggested the post may constitute witness tampering.

Gaetz sought to clarify that it was not his “intent to threaten” Cohen in his earlier tweet and added that “he should have chosen words that better showed my intent.” 

His apology came in response to a statement Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills MORE (D-Calif.) shared on Twitter earlier on Tuesday, which noted that lawmakers' statements "can adversely affect the ability of House committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties."

Painter, however, appeared unfazed by Gaetz’s apology and referred to it as “BS” in a tweet directly calling out the Florida Republican shortly after.

“You threatened a witness. That’s a crime,” Painter said in a tweet late Tuesday.

“You should resign from Congress and face charges," he added.