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House subcommittee to investigate Florida congressman over Cohen tweet

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz refuses to testify about comments to ex-Trump lawyer

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions former White House counsel for the Nixon Administration John Dean during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller report on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 10, 2019.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions former White House counsel for the Nixon Administration John Dean during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller report on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A congressional subcommittee will investigate whether a Florida congressman intimidated President Donald Trump's former lawyer ahead of his testimony to Congress earlier this year.

The House Committee on Ethics announced Friday that an investigative subcommittee has been established after U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., declined to appear last month before the committee regarding a February remark he made to Michael Cohen on Twitter.

"Hey @MichaelCohen212 - Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends?" Gaetz, one of Trump's staunchest defenders on Capitol Hill, wrote in a tweet. "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..."

The committee informed Gaetz "that its ability to resolve the complaint would be hindered without his testimony."

House and committee rules established a June 24 deadline to dispose of the complaint, which was made March 13.

Because Gaetz failed to provide testimony, the committee "was unable to dispose of the complaint by the rule-based deadline."

Cohen testified in March that Trump directed him to lie about a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress who alleged an affair with the president before he was elected.

Gaetz made headlines in February when he sought to remove the parent of a Parkland school shooting victim from a congressional hearing on gun violence.

Manuel Oliver, whose son, Joaquin, was one of 17 people killed in the 2018 Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, repeatedly interrupted Gaetz, standing up from the gallery and shouting several comments.

Gaetz recently told Fox News he intends to prosecute after a protester threw a drink at him.

"I had a circumstance just a few weeks ago where someone threw a drink at me leaving a town hall meeting and I am going to press charges," Gaetz said.

The incident took place June 1 as he walked past a crowd of protesters in Pensacola, part of his congressional district.

"What if it's a member of my staff, and what if instead of a drink it's acid or urine or something else like that?" Gaetz said. "So I think it's really important we send a message that we, as conservatives, have a right to our views, just like anyone else has a right to their views, and we're not backing down from anybody, and people that behave this way should face the consequences before the court."