In a bid to make President Donald Trump seem like a good person and morally upstanding businessman, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz just tried to publicly blackmail a federal witness.
Michael Cohen, a lawyer who spent years coordinating various sketchy business deals on Trump’s behalf, has infamously flipped on his old boss and has been dishing damaging information to the feds. Cohen is set to testify in front of Congress tomorrow, where he is expected to say Trump both exaggerated his net worth to seem important and minimized it to avoid taxes. Some other carnival-like nonsense will also likely occur.
Ahead of that testimony, Gaetz very publicly did something that he is not allowed to do. He blackmailed a witness. In writing. On Twitter.
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…
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 26, 2019
Legal experts are already telling Gaetz that he could very be in serious trouble. Because — and it’s amazing we have to explain this — one cannot blackmail a federal witness.
Gaetz has already told a few Capitol Hill reporters that he is “witness testing, not witness tampering” and that his comments are just part of the “marketplace of ideas.” Importantly, Gaetz does not sit on any committees involved in the Cohen hearing. He’s just a friend of Donald Trump’s. (Cohen has already claimed through his lawyer that Trump’s associates have been threatening him for months now.)
Ken White, a federal criminal defense attorney, warned Gaetz online this afternoon to “lawyer up, dirtbag.”
/2 It sure seems like you’re threatening Michael Cohen that if he testifies before Congress you, or people aligned with you, will bring out embarrassing details about him. pic.twitter.com/6nZpuPaRZt
— EmergenHat (@Popehat) February 26, 2019
Amazingly, that was not even Gaetz’s only insane tweet that hour. Minutes before posting his blackmail threat, Gaetz also came to the defense of Roger Stone acolyte Jacob Engels, a right-wing media figure who’s written for InfoWars and claims to be a reporter “embedded with” the Proud Boys, an alt-right, pro-Trump gang. Engels was suspended from Twitter over the weekend after he published a tweet accusing Muslims of operating “rape gangs.” Gaetz felt the need to come to Engels’ defense today.
Last week, New Times also whacked Gaetz for creepily hitting on New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez through the media. In numerous tweets and news appearances, Gaetz has called AOC “attractive” and “adorable,” and says he’d “swipe right” on working with her.
Of course, it’s fun to dunk on Gaetz, an absolute sewer-dwelling scum bucket who inherited his political career from his politician dad. But it’s 2019: Gaetz will probably get away with this.
Update: Gaetz has since repeated his threats on the House floor.