The Florida Bar Association is moving forward with their investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) apparently threatening former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen via tweet. A panel called the Grievance Committee will handle the next step, according to The Tampa Bay Times. They will determine if there’s probable cause the congressman broke state rules for lawyers when he made this now-deleted post on February 26:
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…
Cohen was scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee the following day.
“Congressman Gaetz remains confident that the Florida Bar will not impair his vigorous and successful representation of his district,” spokesperson Jillian Lane Wyant told Law&Crime in a statement.
Legal experts said it looked like Gaetz broke the law.
Who wants to tell @mattgaetz that sitting members of Congress aren’t immune from indictment?
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) February 26, 2019
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) February 26, 2019
/3 There’s a whole bunch of obstruction statutes, sir, and if you’re threatening to reveal embarrassing information to deter a witness from testifying before Congress, I think you need advice about whether you may be violating one or more of them. https://t.co/IcYiMRkJGP
— SnittyGrappleHat (@Popehat) February 26, 2019
Speaker, I want to get the truth too. 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. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry. https://t.co/Rdbw3sTQJD
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 27, 2019
The grievance committee process (witness interviews, evidence gathering, etc.) could reportedly take up to six months. A formal complaint would be filed with the Supreme Court of Florida to schedule a trial if investigators find probable cause.
Update – May 8, 1:32 p.m.: We added a statement from a Gaetz spokesperson.
[Image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images]