President Donald Trump’s allies just keep landing in hot water. This week, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was investigating Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz over a threatening tweet he issued targeting former longtime Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen right before that now former lawyer testified to Congress. Gaetz had threatened the release of information surrounding Cohen’s supposed extramarital affairs, although he did not provide specifics.
Gaetz eventually deleted the tweet, but not before the damage was done. The complaint sparking the new House probe evidently came from one his colleagues, reportedly Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) although the panel did not publicly confirm this. A source told POLITICO that she confronted Gaetz the night of his tweet and filed her complaint within the next couple of weeks. The House Ethics Committee has formed a subcommittee for examining his case, which is not bound by a specific timetable but has the power to sanction the Congressman through means like the formal rebuke of censure if they find it fitting. There would have to be bipartisan consensus for that, since as the ethics panel as a whole, the four member subcommittee is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
Cohen ended up sharing information with Congress about his former boss’s corruption, including alleged bank, insurance, and tax fraud, and the scheme in which Trump paid off women with whom he’d had his own affairs in an attempt to buy their silence. Gaetz, meanwhile, has already faced another probe over this same issue from the Florida Bar Association, which oversees lawyers in Gaetz’s state and has expressed continued concern over his actions.
Like in the Florida Bar case, Gaetz has completely dismissed the ethics panel’s probe. On May 16, he “blew off an initial review of the complaint,” POLITICO explains, leading the committee to their presently proceeding more formal step since he was a no-show.
He told the publication:
‘If members of Congress want to spend their time psychoanalyzing my tweets, it’s certainly their prerogative. I won’t be joining them in the endeavor. Too busy.’
Although he has not faced a criminal investigation for something like witness tampering or obstruction of justice, two other prominently Trump-supporting Republican Congressmen are facing criminal probes.
California’s Duncan Hunter will be going to trial this fall on charges that he and his wife illegally funneled a quarter of a million dollars in campaign cash towards personal uses — including, allegedly, funding almost half a dozen extramarital affairs that Hunter has carried on with throughout recent years. Rep. Hunter’s wife recently flipped and began cooperating with prosecutors — perhaps understandably so considering the new affair revelations.
Meanwhile, New York Congressman Chris Collins has been slapped with charges of insider trading and faces a trial date of early 2020. Notably enough, both men are still in Congress — their Republican constituencies and colleagues did not think that criminal behavior was enough to get them out, apparently. It’s not the first time, considering Montana Republican Greg Gianforte was elected to Congress even after body-slamming a reporter — a move Trump eventually praised.
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