Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz apologized late Tuesday for an earlier tweet about Michael Cohen suggesting that President Trump’s former attorney had been unfaithful to his wife, and said his words were not meant to be construed as threatening.
The Republican Congressman issued the apology 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 has since deleted the original tweet directed at Cohen, in which he wrote: “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 explained. "And when witnesses come before Congress their truthfulness and veracity are in question and we have the opportunity to test them."
The lawmaker’s comment comes as Cohen appeared on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the first in a series of hearings this week.
His testimony Tuesday to the Senate Intelligence Committee took place behind closed doors. On Wednesday, he’ll testify before the House Oversight Committee in an open hearing. The following day, Cohen is set to appear behind closed doors for a House Intelligence Committee interview.
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.
Lanny J. Davis, who represents Cohen, slammed Gaetz’s tweet as a shameful lie and one that would not sit well with the Floridians whom the lawmaker represents.
"We will 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,” Davis said in a statement to Fox News.
“I also trust that his constituents will not appreciate that their congressman has set a new low — which in today’s political culture is hard to imagine as possible,” he continued.
In addition to his tweet, Gaetz also addressed Cohen on the House floor on Tuesday night, painting him as a repeated liar.
“I guess tomorrow we will find out if there is anyone that Michael Cohen hasn’t lied to,” Gaetz said. “We already know he lied to Congress, we already know he lied to law enforcement, lied to the IRS, lied to three banks and he's going to prison for his lies. And so I guess it will be relevant for us to determine like, does he lie to his own family? Does he lie to his financier's? Does he lie to his financiers who are members of his family?”
Gaetz, who is not a member of the oversight committee, also called Cohen’s credibility into question.
“And it’ll be one heck of an inquiry for us because this is someone who has tangled such a web of lies that he is not to be believed and I think it is entirely appropriate for any member of this body to challenge the truthfulness and veracity and character for the people who have a history of lying and have a future that undoubtedly contains nothing but lies,” Gaetz continued on the floor. “That is the story of Michael Cohen, we’ll see it play out tomorrow. And I, for one, can't wait to the get to the bottom of things, and can't wait to get to the truth.”
His comments echoed ones he made during an interview on The Todd Starnes Show on Fox News Radio, saying that he doesn't anticipate getting "very truthful testimonies" from Cohen on Wednesday. He also predicted that Cohen would "try to cast Donald Trump as the villain and he as the person that's going to make things right."
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Mike Emanuel and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.