Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, a longtime ally of Donald Trump and certainly no stranger to legal troubles — his famous arrest for DUI has dogged him for his entire career — is now under scrutiny once again following a tweet on Tuesday that can’t be construed as anything other than criminal witness tampering.
In the lead-up to former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee, at which he is widely expected to produce details of crimes committed by the President during his time in office, Rep. Gaetz tweeted an ominous warning to Cohen:
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…
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 26, 2019
There really isn’t any way to spin that other than as a threat. Presumably, Gaetz has elected to leave the tweet online because the damage is done at this point, but it’s not really in doubt that it does constitute blackmail and witness tampering at least.
After Gaetz’ DUI, most suspected the fact that his refusal to take a breathalyzer wasn’t’ used against him in court was a result of his father, Don Gaetz, intervening on his behalf as a member of the Florida State Senate (his father left the Florida legislature in 2016). But there is no indication that there may be such a way out for Gaetz this time.
Compounding his troubles is the fact that now a founder of the watchdog group The Democratic Coalition has announced that his outlet will be investigating Gaetz after the tweet — ostensibly to discern whether Gaetz (a) actually has any damning information to use against Cohen, (b) may be conspiring with another Republican member of Congress who is also a member of the Oversight Committee — Gaetz is not, and will not have access to Cohen during the hearing — and (c) what kind of criminal offense it might constitute for Gaetz to have violated the US Code:
18 U.S.C. § 1512 (d) Whoever intentionally harasses another person and thereby hinders, delays, prevents, or dissuades any person from— (1) attending or testifying in an official proceeding; or attempts to do so, shall be fined… or imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.”
BREAKING: GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz is now under investigation by @TheDemCoalition.
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) February 27, 2019
The fact that Gaetz risked something so stupid in such a high-profile investigation could even indicate he’s drinking again, but he should have plenty of time to dry up once more when he’s behind bars.
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