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‘No probable cause’ Matt Gaetz violated Florida Bar rules in tweets at Michael Cohen

The lawyer association investigated the Panhandle Republican after complaints of witness tampering.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., questions former White House counsel for the Nixon Administration John Dean during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in mid-June on the Mueller Report on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Gaetz tried intimidating Michael Cohen before the former personal lawyer to President Donald Trump testified to Congress about Trump. [ANDREW HARNIK | AP]

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz won’t face discipline from the Florida Bar for posting menacing messages on social media aimed at President Donald Trump’s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

Gaetz announced Wednesday on Twitter the results of a months-long investigation into his actions. Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker confirmed that the organization found “no probable cause” that the Panhandle Republican violated its rules for lawyers.

“I thank the Bar committee members for their sound judgment,” said Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach.

The House ethics committee is also reviewing the incident.

The investigations against Gaetz stem from a tweet he sent on Feb. 27, the eve of Cohen’s testimony before a House committee.

Gaetz, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, wrote: “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 ... ”

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He deleted the tweet, but not before it went viral. Legal experts compared it to intimidation of a witness. Walter Schaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics replied to Gaetz’s tweet with the federal statute number for tampering with a witness. Sen. Rick Scott, a fellow Florida Republican, called the tweet, “disgusting.”

Gaetz later said he “should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.” However, he maintained that he was not attempting to threaten Cohen, who was scheduled to testify before Congress the next day.

The Florida Bar soon after said it was reviewing the incident. In May, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Bar’s initial inquiry determined further investigation was justified, and sent the case to its grievance committee to determine if there was probable cause for a violation.

That committee decided there was not.

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