GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz appears at Michael Cohen's testimony after sending threatening tweet

A pro-Trump Florida congressman is in hot water for seeming to threaten Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 27, 2019 12:01PM (EST)

Matt Gaetz; Michael Cohen (AP/Jose Luis Magana/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Matt Gaetz; Michael Cohen (AP/Jose Luis Magana/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., is facing the heat after he posted a tweet that seemed to threaten Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen as the latter prepares to testify before Congress about the alleged president's alleged crimes.

"Hey @MichaelCohen212. 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 tweeted on Tuesday afternoon, according to CNN (the tweet has since been deleted). While Gaetz is not on the House Oversight Committee, which is scheduled to speak with Cohen, he says that he is trying to gain admission to the upcoming hearing.

In an interview with CBS News after posting the tweet, Gaetz defended himself by claiming that he was "witness-testing" rather than witness-tampering, even though it was unclear how Gaetz's tweet could be construed as testing a witness — that is, attempting to measure his or her credibility — and not as an attempt to threaten that witness into not coming forward lest he or she face unfavorable consequences.

When asked if he can provide evidence for his claims about Cohen's supposed infidelities, Gaetz smiled to the CBS News reporter and simply replied, "As the President loves to say: 'We'll see.'"

Gaetz kept up his campaign against Cohen at the recently disbarred lawyer's testimony on Wednesday:

Both Gaetz and Cohen have major credibility problems. Cohen has already been convicted of lying to Congress and, during his days as Trump's "fixer," was notorious for threatening journalists, facilitating the payment of hush money and engaging in other activities that make him less than credible. If he is unable to provide documentary evidence that demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump broke the law, it is difficult to imagine that anything he says before Congress will be able to legally endanger the president.

Gaetz, on the other hand, has his own credibility problems. Earlier this month it was revealed that in 2017 Gaetz had begun working with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in order to "go play offense" against the people who were presenting legal challenges to Trump. Gaetz and Jordan were both privately and publicly encouraged by Trump and his lawyers to conduct investigations into the investigators, such as drafting a letter to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton's email scandal. Gaetz has also trafficked conspiracy theories from far right-wing subreddits and invited an alt right activist, Charles C. "Chuck" Johnson, to attend Trump's 2018 State of the Union address. Gaetz later denied that Johnson was a Holocaust denier or a white supremacist.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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