Hours before his scheduled public testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Michael Cohen received a warning, of sorts, from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., about what awaits him.
“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...” he wrote.
He later deleted the tweet and apologized.
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
Gaetz’s initial taunt came after reports that Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime attorney, plans to testify Wednesday that his former boss was involved in an illegal scheme to use campaign funds to pay off porn actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to charges related to the hush money scheme.
The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is expected to be wide-ranging and to cover a number of topics that could be problematic for Trump.
The preview Gaetz offered of what he and other Republican members of the committee may bring up was cited by some political observers as highly improper and possibly illegal, under statutes that make it a crime to attempt to intimidate a witness in a federal proceeding.
Confronted on Capitol Hill shortly after he posted his tweet, Gaetz bristled at the suggestion his words might be considered witness tampering.
UPDATE:— Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox) February 26, 2019
Me: Any response to those who say you’re witness tampering? @mattgaetz: I’m witness testing. We still are allowed to test the veracity and character of witnesses, I think.
Me: So you disagree with those who say you’re witness tampering?
Gaetz: Yes. https://t.co/aBRZAF314A
Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, called Gaetz’s warning “a new low” in American politics.
“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. “I also trust that his constituents will not appreciate that the congressmen has set a new low — which in today’s political culture is hard to imagine possible.”
In Vietnam this week for his meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump is reportedly making time to watch Cohen testify.
CNN reporting Trump will stay up all night watching Cohen on TV right before negotiating the end to a war— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) February 26, 2019
In recent weeks, Trump has eased off his public comments about Cohen, who had been a frequent target on Twitter over his cooperation with investigators that could land the president in legal jeopardy.
Kevin Corke, @FoxNews “Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars....” Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders echoed Trump’s assertion that Cohen couldn’t be trusted.
“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” Sanders said in a statement Tuesday. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same.”
Cohen is scheduled to begin serving a three-year sentence on May 6 for crimes including campaign finance violations stemming from the hush money payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
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