The Florida lawyer oversight group has begun investigating the state’s representative Matt Gaetz over a potentially threatening tweet aimed at President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen just hours before he testified before Congress on Wednesday.
Following the tweet, Democratic Representative Kathleen Rice asked the Florida Bar to probe the statement made in Gaetz’s tweet, which said, “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.”
According to Francine Andía Walker, the Bar’s director of communications, they received a number of calls and emails asking that Gaetz be referred for his tweet for possible discipline by the House Ethics Committee for “witness intimidation and tampering,” and that he might face criminal prosecution for the tweet, CNBC reports.
Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis responded to the potentially threatening tweet by saying that they would 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.”
Gaetz dismissed claims by a number of lawmakers that his tweet amounted to witness tampering and said it was “witness testing.”
However, only hours later, he deleted the tweet and apologized. It “was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry,” he noted.
The Florida Bar said in a statement it was aware of the tweet and added an investigation had been opened into it.
“Any time the words or actions of a Florida lawyer result in complaints, The Florida Bar will fully investigate those complaints through its established grievance process to determine if Bar rules have been violated,” the group said, stressing also that in case of rule violations it pursues discipline by the Florida Supreme Court.