By Andrew O'Reilly
Published February 27, 2019
The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into a tweet by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., about Michael Cohen, which suggested that President Trump’s former attorney had been unfaithful to his wife.
“The Florida Bar is aware of the comments made in a tweet yesterday by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is a Florida Bar member, and I can confirm we have opened an investigation,” Francine Andía Walker, the Florida Bar’s communications director, said in a statement to Fox News.
Gaetz has been embroiled in controversy since he tweeted on Tuesday: “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...”
When asked about his Cohen tweet by reporters on Tuesday, Gaetz insisted that his remarks were not witness tampering, according to The Hill.
"We’re witness testing, not witness tampering," Gaetz said. "And when witnesses come before Congress, their truthfulness and veracity are in question and we have the opportunity to test them."
Gaetz, however, has since deleted the controversial tweet following a tweet from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who urged all members to be “mindful” about comments made on social media and how they can affect the work of House Committees.
“Speaker, I want to get the truth too,” Gaetz wrote. “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.”
Gaetz’s tweet came a day before Cohen publicly testified before the House Oversight Committee. Trump's fixer-turned-foe was testifying to the Senate intelligence committee behind closed doors on Tuesday when Gaetz fired off his initial tweet, drawing immediate criticism from fellow lawmakers.
Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., has asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz’s tweet.
"As a former District Attorney and federal prosecutor, I believe this statement is in violation of 18 U.S. Code 1512, which clearly defines witness tampering and intimidation," she wrote in the letter, according to ABC News. "According to the Department of Justice ... this statute applies to proceedings before Congress."
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., also called on the committee to launch an investigation into what he called a "grossly unethical and probably illegal" attempt to intimidate a witness.
Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a deal.
He's scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence in May.
Fox News’ Heather Lacy, Elizabeth Zwirz and Stephen Sorace, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.