WASHINGTON – A top House Republican ally of President Donald Trump delivered a warning to former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen on the eve of Cohen’s scheduled public testimony before a congressional committee investigating the president.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz implied in a tweet Tuesday that Cohen’s wife is “about to learn a lot” about Cohen, suggesting without offering any evidence that he’s had extramarital affairs — raising immediate accusations that Gaetz was trying to intimidate Cohen.
Congressional Republicans and Trump’s aides have been attacking Cohen’s credibility, calling him a convicted liar, prior to his testimony Wednesday before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, in which he’s said to be planning to depict his former boss as having committee criminal acts. Cohen pleaded guilty to nine felonies, including lying to Congress.
But few have gone as far as Gaetz did in his tweet.
A former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti, said on Twitter that Gaetz’s tweet “appears to be an attempt to intimidate a witness before he testifies before the House Oversight Committee tomorrow.’
Gaetz dismissed such characterizations. “We are still allowed to test the veracity and character of witnesses before Congress, I think,” he said in a text message to Bloomberg News.
He added: “Moreover, do you appreciate the irony in asking be about intimidating people in re: Michael Cohen? The dude has been a creepy intimidator for awhile.”
Cohen testified behind closed doors before the Senate Intelligence Committee for hours on Tuesday and will do the same on Thursday before the House Intelligence panel. Questions in those sessions will focus in part on his role in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, while his testimony before the oversight panel will focus on what he knows about Trump’s business practices.
Gaetz, who went to law school and worked as an attorney, is a member of the Judiciary Committee, but is not on the Oversight panel.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to nine felonies, including lying to Congress. He’s scheduled to report to prison on May 6. He had originally been scheduled to testify to Congress in early February, but delayed that appearance, citing threats from Trump.