WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Ethics announced Friday that it will investigate Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close ally of President Donald Trump, for tweeting a salacious and cryptic threat to the president's former longtime attorney, who was then testifying during the congressional Russia investigations.
Gaetz tweeted seven hours into Michael Cohen’s closed-door interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee in February, alleging without evidence that Cohen was cheating on his wife and implying that Gaetz or someone else would inform Cohen’s family.
“Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?” Gaetz tweeted at Cohen at the time. “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…”
Reports indicated at the time that Cohen was telling members of the committee about his previous lies to Congress about his work for Trump.
Gaetz later deleted his post and tweeted an apology, saying his comments were not meant as a threat.
The House Ethics Committee said Friday that it first contacted Gaetz on May 16 after another member of Congress filed a complaint about his alleged intimidation tactics via Twitter. Rep. Kathleen Rice, a New York Democrat, sent the complaint, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News, on March 13. In it, Rice asked the committee to investigate Gaetz for "witness tampering and intimidation" and encourage them to refer any findings to the Justice Department.
Members of the Ethics Committee had warned Gaetz at the time that he would face an "investigative subcommittee" should he not appear, but the representative still declined to be interviewed. Four congressional members will serve on the subcommittee, including two Democrats and two Republicans: Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland will serve as chair and work with Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, John Rose, and Michael Guest.
Gaetz’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, but the firebrand member of Congress texted Politico that he wouldn’t cooperate with the committee’s new investigation panel either. "If members of Congress want to spend their time psychoanalyzing my tweets, it’s certainly their prerogative. I won’t be joining them in the endeavor. Too busy,” he wrote.
This is not the first time Gaetz has been in the news for going after someone in an attempt to protect the president. In November 2017, Gaetz introduced legislation to force Robert Mueller to resign, claiming the special counsel is “compromised.”
This story was updated to include the complaint Rice sent to the Ethics Committee.