Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has avoided any real punishment for his tweet last year that took aim at the former attorney to President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, before he was said to speak in front of Congress.
“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 said in a since-deleted tweet.
The House Ethics Committee admonished Gaetz Friday, though it determined that the Republican representative hadn’t broken the law.
“The ISC reviewed Representative Gaetz’s conduct and did not find that he had the requisite intent to establish a violation of the federal criminal statutes prohibiting witness tampering and obstruction of Congress,” the Ethics Committee said in a report. “The ISC did find, however, that Representative Gaetz’s conduct violated House Rule XXIII, clause 1, which requires Members to act at all times in a manner that reflects creditably in the House.”
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 has said his intent was never to threaten Cohen. The committee noted that it is not “the social media police” and it won’t take any further action against Gaetz for his behavior.
The Ethics Committee cautioned House members to exercise sound judgment when using social media going forward.
“The Committee has acknowledged that the fast-pace and wide dissemination of electronic communications, while in some ways a boon to greater transparency between Members and their constituents, can lead to embarrassing mistakes and unintended consequences,” the committee said. “Not every social media misstep requires Committee action. As the ISC notes, however, the requirement that Members conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House extends to their electronic communications.”
Gaetz won the Republican primary Tuesday night for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, defeating Greg Merk and John Mills with a 60-point margin. He will now face Democratic candidate Phil Ehr in the general election in November.