Florida Bar advances Matt Gaetz investigation over Cohen tweet

The Florida Bar on Wednesday said it will move forward with an investigation into Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTempers flare at tense Judiciary hearing on impeachment Gaetz questions Democratic counsel about political donations GOP lawmaker criticizes Democratic counsel over facial expression: 'Be very careful' MORE (R-Fla.) regarding his tweet about President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE's former lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenKaren McDougal sues Fox News over alleged slander Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Five things to watch for at Trump's NATO meetings MORE.

The case is advancing to the the Grievance Committee, which will determine if there is probable cause that Gaetz, a licensed attorney in the state, violated Florida Bar rules. If probable cause is established, a complaint will be filed with the Florida Supreme Court, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

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The investigation follows a February tweet that Gaetz, a Trump ally, sent ahead of Cohen's testimony before Congress. The tweet was widely criticized, with some characterizing it as 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...” Gaetz wrote at the time. He has since deleted the tweet and apologized.

He also noted in his apology that he did not intend to threaten Cohen. 
 
"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," he later tweeted. "I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry."
 
Gaetz was later seen attending the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing where Cohen testified, even though he is not a member of that committee.

The Florida bar in February confirmed to The Hill that it was investigating the incident.

Had the legal association decided there was no cause for discipline, the probe would have ended, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“Congressman Gaetz remains confident that the Florida Bar will not impair his vigorous and successful representation of his district,” said Jillian Lane Wyant, a spokeswoman for Gaetz, in a statement to The Hill regarding the latest development.

The Grievance Committee will assign an investigator to Gaetz's case and make a recommendation to the panel after conducting interviews and looking into evidence, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The process could take up to six months.

--Updated at 1:05 p.m.