The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) after the lawmaker appeared to send a threatening tweet on the eve of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony.
Francine Walker, a spokesperson for the Florida Bar, confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday that the state’s bar association has opened an investigation into whether Gaetz, a licensed attorney, violated professional conduct rules.
The story was first reported by the Daily Beast.
The probe centers around a tweet Gaetz sent questioning Cohen’s faithfulness to his wife which came one day before Cohen’s scheduled appearance between the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“Hey @MichaelCohen212 — Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” Gaetz tweeted on Tuesday. “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, a staunch ally of the president, received his law degree from the College of William and Mary in 2007.
The Florida Bar’s rules of professional conduct state that lawyers “should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs” and “should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.”
“If rules have been violated, The Florida Bar will vigorously pursue appropriate discipline by the Florida Supreme Court,” Walker said in a statement. “The Florida Bar takes its responsibility of regulating lawyer conduct very seriously.”
“It seems that the Florida Bar, by its rules, is required to investigate even the most frivolous of complaints,” a spokesperson for Gaetz said in a statement.
Gaetz initially defended the comments, insisting that he was “witness testing” but later deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
“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,” Gaetz tweeted late Tuesday. “I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.”
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