‘We’re witness testing, not witness tampering’: Matt Gaetz defends himself against claims of threatening Cohen, explains on House floor

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., walked into a buzzsaw on Tuesday with a tweet directed at President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who’s set to testify before the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

The tweet referenced the married lawyer’s alleged “girlfriends” and was jumped on as a “threat” to Cohen — the lawmaker would later delete the tweet, but told reporters it was “absolutely” not a threat, but a “test.”

Gaetz tweeted: “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…”

With Washington and the anti-Trump media buzzing over Cohen’s testimony, where he is expected to make some remarkable allegations of criminal behavior by Trump, Gaetz was accused of witness tampering, but he would have no part of that.

“Absolutely not, we’re witness testing, not witness tampering,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “When witnesses come to Congress, their truthfulness and veracity are in question and we have the opportunity to test them.”

 

The irony of the anti-Trump media, which now holds Cohen in their warm embrace, claiming that Gaetz was somehow trying to influence his testimony, is that Cohen’s prepared remarks before the committee have already been leaked.

Gaetz said Wednesday “will be an exciting day and I think we’re going to learn a lot about Michael Cohen,” reminding reporters Cohen is about to go to prison for lying — he was sentenced to three years for tax fraud, campaign finance violations and lying.

When asked if he had any insight into Cohen’s personal relationships, Gaetz told the reporter to “tune in tomorrow and find out.”

He was also asked if he threatened Cohen.

“I don’t threaten anybody, Michael Cohen threatens people,” Gaetz replied, citing a record of phone calls Cohen has had with reporters.

After an indirect rebuke by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gaetz did apologize for the tweet.

“Speaker, I want to get the truth too,” he tweeted. “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.”

At the same time, Gaetz was consistent in his line of defense, as seen when he spoke on the House floor, saying that it’s relevant to know if Cohen “lies to his own family.”

He shared the video online, tweeting: “I guess tomorrow we’ll find out if there’s anyone Cohen hasn’t lied to! I think it’s entirely appropriate for any member of this body to challenge the truthfulness, veracity, and character for people who have a history and future full of lies.”

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Tom Tillison

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