GOP congressman possibly breaks law with threats against Michael Cohen


Rep. Matt Gaetz threatened to release embarrassing information against Michael Cohen, raising accusations of witness tampering ahead of Cohen's Wednesday House testimony.

The legal community has a word of advice for Trump sycophant and Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz: Lawyer up.

Gaetz threatened to expose Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen for having an alleged affair — raising questions about whether he was trying to intimidate a witness, as Cohen is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Cohen is set to accuse Trump of racism, inflating his net worth, and engaging in criminal behavior, and Republicans like Gaetz are worried it might hurt Trump.

"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..." Gaetz tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Legal analysts immediately raised the possibility that Gaetz — who has boasted about his efforts to shield Trump from scrutiny in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — was again trying to protect Trump with his Cohen threats.

They brought up the fact that Gaetz may have violated 18 U.S. Code 1512, which relates to "tampering with a witness, victim or an informant."

The statute says that anyone who, "knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person, with intent to influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding" could be "fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."

Maya Wiley, a legal analyst for MSNBC, tweeted that Gaetz could face consequences under this statute.

"For a member of Congress to bully a witness in this manner, any witness, is a disturbing abuse of power," Wiley tweeted. "A congressional proceeding is covered by federal obstruction 18 USC Sec 1505 & requires corrupt intent."

Vox reporter Alex Ward asked Gaetz whether he was concerned that he may be witness tampering. Gaetz replied in a smug fashion.

"I'm witness testing," Gaetz told Ward. "We still are allowed to test the veracity and character of witnesses, I think."

Ironically, Gaetz doesn't even sit on the Oversight and Reform Committee — meaning he won't be on hand to question Cohen on Wednesday.

Ultimately, it looks like Gaetz should've taken the advice he himself doled out just four days ago: "Bullying is never OK."

In fact, Gaetz's cyberbullying might just land him in legal trouble.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.