Gaetz offered zero proof for his claims of infidelity by Cohen.
Speaking to reporters outside his office Tuesday evening, Gaetz defended his tweet, adding that it wasn’t a threat. He told reporters his tweet wasn’t witness-tampering, but instead was “witness-testing.” Gaetz said he’s trying to get into Wednesday’s hearing to ask questions (he’s not on the House Oversight Committee), and he added that he didn’t speak with Trump about his allegations.
In an interview with CBS News after the tweet
, Gaetz was pressed for evidence of the claim he hinted at on his Twitter feed and he replied: “As the President loves to say, ‘We’ll see.'”
It’s revealing that Gaetz chose to quote Trump in mounting his defense of an indefensible tweet. Few — if any — Republican members of Congress have more fully embraced Trump’s go-for-the-jugular approach to politics than Gaetz. An April 2018 profile of Gaetz in GQ described him as the “Trumpiest Congressman in Trump’s Washington
Gaetz endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign in its earliest days and, unlike many skittish Republicans, never backed away from that support. Following Trump’s victory, Gaetz has been a willing water boy for the President — pushing conspiracy theories about a “deep state” within the government targeting Trump, and savaging FBI agent Peter Strzok in a House hearing
Gaetz has also become a regular fixture on Trump’s preferred communication medium — cable TV — where he has delivered the sort of unapologetic (and factually unfounded) attacks that please the President to no end.
Trump, as is his wont, repaid Gaetz’s blind loyalty with an endorsement of his 2018 campaign while on a July trip to London. Tweeted Trump
: “Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida is one of the finest and most talented people in Congress. Strong on Crime, the Border, Illegal Immigration, the 2nd Amendment, our great Military & Vets, Matt worked tirelessly on helping to get our Massive Tax Cuts. He has my Full Endorsement!”
Which all brings us back to Gaetz’s tweet. Let’s go through what we know as of right now:
1. Gaetz is a very close ally of Trump
2. Cohen poses an existential threat to Trump
3. Cohen will tell his story publicly on Wednesday
4. Gaetz sent a clearly threatening tweet directed at Cohen Tuesday afternoon.
If you think that Gaetz’s tweet was just a random act, then you haven’t been paying attention to politics for very long. Or, well, ever.
What Gaetz was trying to do is intimidate Cohen on behalf of Trump. Did Gaetz do so at the behest of Trump or as a solo actor simply trying to impress the President with how far he was willing to go over the line of acceptable conduct? I don’t know — although i hope when the press corps wakes up with Trump in Vietnam they ask him directly if he talked to Gaetz about the upcoming Cohen hearing.
Regardless of what spurred Gaetz to tweet what he tweeted, what is not in question is that the Florida Republican’s goal was to make Cohen think twice about what he says in front of the House Oversight Committee. This is thuggery that should be beneath even someone as brazenly political and calculating as Gaetz.