The House Ethics Committee admonished Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., for a 2019 tweet against Michael Cohen that suggested the former attorney to President Trump was unfaithful to his wife and had “girlfriends.”
Gaetz had already apologized for the tweet that he issued before Cohen’s testimony before Congress and said his words were not meant to be construed as threatening to a witness. On Friday, he took the reprimand “with humility” while also noting his big primary election victory earlier this week.
“The Ethics Committee has given me an admonishment,” Gaetz said in a statement to Fox News. “My fellow Northwest Florida Republicans gave me 81 percent of the vote on Tuesday. I accept both with humility.”
Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
Following an ethics investigation, the bipartisan House panel voted unanimously to “admonish” the Florida Republican for his conduct but declined to take any harsher action.
The Ethics Committee report released Friday said that Gaetz’s actions violated House code of conduct rules that members must “conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.” The ethics panel said the rule applies to electronic communications and House members are “cautioned to exercise sound judgment when using social media.”
The ethics investigation didn’t find that Gaetz tampered or obstructed with a congressional witness, though.
Gaetz deleted the original tweet directed at Cohen, in which he wrote: “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…”
Gaetz previously apologized to Cohen and his family and the committee’s report noted the congressman’s “remorse.”
“I want to say publicly what I’ve said privately to Michael Cohen and to his family, that I’m sorry,” Gaetz said on Fox News March 1.
“It’s entirely appropriate to test the truthfulness of a witness, but that could’ve been done in a way that didn’t invoke someone’s family, and I shouldn’t have done it.”
In this Feb. 27, 2019, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mueller found some evidence in the redacted report released Thursday, April 18, that suggests Trump may have intended to discourage Cohen from cooperation. But he reached no conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Cohen was convicted of several charges, including campaign finance violations in connection with hush payments made to women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump in the past. He started serving his sentence in May 2019 and was scheduled to be let out in November 2021, but he was released this year to home confinement.
Lanny J. Davis, who represented Cohen, slammed Gaetz’s tweet at the time as a shameful lie and one that would not sit well with the Floridians whom the lawmaker represents.
“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 to Fox News.
“I also trust that his constituents will not appreciate that their congressman has set a new low — which in today’s political culture is hard to imagine as possible.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Chad Pergram and Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.