Politics

Florida Bar clears Matt Gaetz in investigation of Michael Cohen tweet

Gaetz thanks Bar committee for 'sound judgment'

(CNN) - The Florida Bar has cleared Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of any disciplinary action following a months-long investigation into a tweet he sent about President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen before his testimony before Congress.

"The Florida Bar grievance committee that investigated the case found no probable cause to believe that Gaetz violated any of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar," state bar spokeswoman Francine Walker told CNN in a statement Wednesday. Walker said the Florida Bar will still issue a "letter of advice" to the lawmaker later this week, "essentially advising him not to do it again."

Just hours ahead of Cohen's public testimony in February 2019 before the House Oversight Committee about his dealing with Trump, Gaetz -- a Florida congressman who is one of Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill -- tweeted at Cohen, "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 celebrated the decision on Wednesday, writing on Twitter: "I thank the Bar committee members for their sound judgment."

Gaetz, who didn't offer any proof for his claims at the time of his tweet against Cohen, later deleted the post and issued an apology urging others to "leave the Cohen family alone." He told reporters at the time that his tweet did not constitute a threat and that his message was not witness-tampering, but rather, "witness-testing."

"This is not witness-tampering. It's witness-testing," Gaetz said. "We have an obligation in the Congress to test the truthfulness of people who come before us."

In June, the House Ethics Committee launched its own investigation into the tweet months after a request from Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York stated that she believes the GOP lawmaker's tweet could rise to the level of witness tampering and intimidation.

Gaetz, who has refused to participate in the committee's investigation, dismissed the effort in June in a statement to CNN.

"If members of Congress want to spend their time psychoanalyzing my tweets, it's certainly their prerogative," he said at the time. "I won't be joining them in the endeavor."

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly reflect when Cohen testified before Congress.

CNN's David Shortell contributed to this report.


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