‘Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself.
‘Let’s leave the Cohen family alone.’
Congressman Matt Gaetz (left), a Republican from Florida, says he personally apologized to Michael Cohen (right), President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, for publicly suggesting he had an affair
Gaetz tweeted on Wednesday: ‘Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself.’
The tweet was posted hours after Gaetz deleted a tweet accusing President Trump’s former fixer of philandering and apologized publicly for making the charged allegation.
Gaetz claimed in the now deleted tweet, without evidence, that Cohen had multiple ‘girlfriends’ his wife should be aware of as he prepares to spend time behind bars.
The apology came after the Florida Bar announced it will investigate Gaetz’s claim that Cohen cheated on his wife with multiple women.
Gaetz is a licensed attorney in his home state. Other attorneys and fellow lawmakers say the claim, made on the eve of Cohen’s public testimony to Congress, violated professional ethics.
One Democrat said Wednesday that Gaetz’s conduct should be reviewed by the House Ethics Committee and recommended a full-blown criminal investigation.
A spokesperson for the Ethics panel declined to comment, however the Florida Bar confirmed in a statement DailyMail.com that it would be conducting a review.
‘The Florida Bar is aware of the comments made in a tweet yesterday by Rep. Matt Gaetz, who is a Florida Bar member, and I can confirm we have opened an investigation,’ a spokesperson said.
Gaetz apologized late Tuesday for making a charged allegation against Cohen that he cheated on wife. He deleted a tweet in which he made the original reference.
It wasn’t good enough for The Florida Bar and at least one of his colleagues, Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.
Del. Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands said Wednesday that Gaetz may have committed a crime as she questioned Cohen during a House Oversight hearing
Plaskett suggested in questioning during a House Oversight Committee hearing, at which Cohen was the star witness, that Congress do more to punish her colleague than a slap on the wrist.
‘I want to apologize for the inappropriate comments and tweets that have been made by other members of this body and as a former prosecutor and as former counsel on House Ethics,’ she said.
She told the former attorney, who was disbarred yesterday for lies he says he told Congress, that Gaetz may have committed a crime when he claimed Cohen was having an affair, without evidence.
‘I think that at the very least there should be a referral to the Ethics committee of witness intimidation or tapering, under U.S.C. 1512 of my colleague Matt Gaetz,’ she said, ‘and it may be possibly him being referred for a criminal prosecution. So, I want to put that on the record.’
The legal statute she referred to says that a person who ‘knowingly uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades another person, or attempts to do so, or engages in misleading conduct toward another person with the intent’ to ‘influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding’ can be fined and sent to jail for up to 20 years.
Harassing someone with the intent of preventing their testimony in an official proceeding can land the accused in jail for three years.
The burden of proof in the statute lies with the defendant. A person accused under the statute must prove ‘that the conduct consisted solely of lawful conduct and that the defendant’s sole intention was to encourage, induce, or cause the other person to testify truthfully.’
Cohen testified publicly this morning for the first time about the crimes he claims Trump directed him to commit and misconduct he says he witnessed within the president’s business and campaign.
Gaetz is not on the committee that questioned Cohen.
Earlier on Wednesday, Gaetz deleted a tweet accusing the ex-Trump fixer of philandering and apologized publicly for making the charged allegation
His apology came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reprimanded him on Twitter for the salacious charge
Gaetz is not on the committee that will question Cohen. Still, his tweet was viewed as potential witness tampering, as the Florida lawmaker is an ally of the president’s
The Republican congressman was not initially contrite. He defended his conduct to reporters outside his congressional office in Washington. He apologized late Tuesday night
Still, his tweet was viewed as potential witness tampering, as the Florida lawmaker is an ally of the president’s.
His apology came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reprimanded him on Twitter for the salacious charge.
He told her in a reply: ‘Speaker, I want to get the truth too. While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.’
The Republican congressman was not initially contrite. He defended his conduct to reporters outside his congressional office in Washington, saying that he was ‘witness testing not witness tampering’ with his accusation.
‘I don’t threaten anybody. Michael Cohen threatens people,’ he charged.
He said Cohen has a ‘PhD in intimidation’ and should be held accountable for his ‘stream of lies.’
He told a fellow representative, California’s Ro Khanna, who sent a tweet calling out his conduct that he was ‘absolutely’ right to challenge Cohen
‘We already know that Michael Cohen lies to Congress. We already know that Michael Cohen lies to law enforcement. Now we’re gonna find out if Michael Cohen lies to his own family,’ he said.
He told a fellow representative, California’s Ro Khanna, who sent a tweet calling out his conduct that he was ‘absolutely’ right to challenge Cohen.
‘We absolutely should encourage all witnesses to testify. I want Michael Cohen to testify so we can show his lies. We should be able to paint an accurate picture of witnesses,’ he said.
But once Pelosi issued a statement cautioning all lawmakers about witness tampering, Gaetz backed off.
‘I encourage all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties,’ she said.
Gaetz had taken a page from Trump’s book on Tuesday when he accused the president’s former attorney without evidence, of having multiple affairs on the eve of Cohen’s blockbuster public testimony, in which he is expected to call his former boss a liar, a criminal and a racist.
The Republican congressman took a page from Donald Trump’s book and accused the president’s former fixer, without evidence, of having multiple affairs
Family: Michael Cohen and his wife Lauren (right) share two children, Samantha (left) and Jake (second from left)
The congressman said in a tweet that Cohen’s wife, Lauren, and her father should have a ‘chat’ with the disgraced attorney, suggesting in a tweet that he was hiding more than one illicit relationship from his family.
‘Hey @MichaelCohen212 – 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…’ he tweeted.
Just over an hour later a Democratic member of the committee, New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell, demanded that Gaetz be investigated for attempting to intimidate a witness.
Trump has said publicly that journalists should look into Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, and hinted that he is in some way involved in fraud.
The president, who is currently in Vietnam, has claimed that Cohen is lying about him
Cohen’s testimony on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to the Senate Intelligence Committee was classified.
During his grilling by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, Cohen said he fears Trump will not allow his successor to peacefully take control of the White House if he loses the 2020 presidential election.
Cohen also claimed Trump has not released his tax returns because he feared that public scrutiny would lead to an audit and tax penalties.
Cohen said Trump was able to lower real estate tax bills by deflating the value of his golf courses and requesting a tax deduction.
In his testimony, Cohen accused Trump of breaking the law while in office and said for the first time that Trump knew in advance about a WikiLeaks dump of stolen emails that hurt his 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton.
Cohen’s testimony and a check he provided to the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform that he said was personally signed by Trump potentially could be used by prosecutors to build a campaign finance law violation case against the president, legal experts said.
Cohen also played a role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels (left) and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal (right)
ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two further charges. Awaiting sentence
Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO
Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison
Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands on his release
Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.
GUILTY: W. SAMUEL PATTEN
Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence
Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration.
He arranged for an American ‘straw donor’ to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.
Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.
CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK
Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At large, probably in Russia
Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.
He has been linked to Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.
INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS
Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They remain at large in Russia
Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud.
Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S.
INDICTED: MICHAEL FLYNN’S BUSINESS PARTNERS
Bijan Kian (left), number two in now disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s lobbying company, and the two’s business partner Ekim Alptekin (right) were indicted for conspiracy to lobby illegally. Kian is awaiting trial, Alptekin is still to appear in court
Kian, an Iranian-American was arrested and appeared in court charged with a conspiracy to illegally lobby the U.S government without registering as a foreign agent. Their co-conspirator was Flynn, who is called ‘Person A’ in the indictment and is not charged, offering some insight into what charges he escaped with his plea deal.
Kian, vice-president of Flynn’s former lobbying firm, is alleged to have plotted with Alptekin to try to change U.S. policy on an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who is accused by Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of trying to depose him.
Erdogan’s government wanted him extradited from the U.S. and paid Flynn’s firm through Alptekin for lobbying, including an op-ed in The Hill calling for Gulen to be ejected. Flynn and Kian both lied that the op-ed was not paid for by the Turkish government.
The indictment is a sign of how Mueller is taking an interest in more than just Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
INDICTED: ROGER STONE
Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign official and longtime informal advisor to Trump, was incited on seven counts including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks.
Stone was a person of interest to Mueller’s investigators long before his January indictment, thanks in part due to his public pronouncements as well as internal emails about his contacts with WikiLeks.
In campaign texts and emails, many of which had already been publicly revealed before showing up in Mueller’s indictment, Stone communicated with associates about WikiLeaks following reports the organization had obtained a cache of Clinton-related emails.
Stone, a former Nixon campaign adviser who has the disgraced former president’s face permanently tattooed on his back, has long been portrayed as a central figure in the election interference scandal, but as recently as January 4 told Dailymail.com that he doesn’t expect to be indicted.
‘They got nothing,’ he said of the special counsel’s investigation.
According to the federal indictment, Stone gave ‘false and misleading’ testimony about his requests for information from WikiLeaks. He then pressured a witness, comedian Randy Credico, to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify, and pressured him in a series of emails. Following a prolonged dispute over testimony, he called him a ‘rat’ and threatened to ‘take that dog away from you’, in reference to Credico’s pet, Bianca. Stone warned him: ‘Let’s get it on. Prepare to die.’
Cohen said Trump directed him to make a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels days before the election to cover up what she has called a sexual encounter with Trump.
Trump has denied the relationship and said the payment was made to stop her ‘false and extortionist accusations.’
Cohen gave the committee a copy of two $35,000 checks issued in 2017, one that Cohen said was signed by Trump and the other signed by his son Donald Trump Jr. to reimburse Cohen for paying off Daniels.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance law violations for his role in orchestrating the secret ‘hush money’ payments to Daniels and a second woman, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also said she had a sexual relationship with Trump.
Under federal law, individual campaign contributions cannot exceed $2,700 per election and must be disclosed. Contributions are defined as payments intended to influence the election.
Trump’s lawyers have said the payment was not a campaign contribution because it was made to protect Trump’s reputation, not to influence the election.
Cohen testified that, during the 2016 campaign, Trump ‘made clear’ to him that Cohen should lie and say negotiations to build a Trump tower in Moscow ended before the state-by-state Republican primaries began when actually the talks continued for months after that.
Cohen pleaded guilty in August to lying to Congress in a 2017 statement in which he had said the talks ended in January 2016 instead of June 2016.
Cohen said Trump did not explicitly direct him to lie but looked him “in the eye” and relayed the false version of events.
‘In his way, he was telling me to lie,’ Cohen said, adding that Trump’s personal lawyers ‘reviewed and edited my statement to Congress.’
It is a federal crime to ‘knowingly and wilfully’ give false statements to Congress.
It is also illegal to conspire with someone to provide false testimony.
In a phone interview with the
He said said he was merely ‘challenging the veracity and character of a witness’ before Cohen’s public testimony.
‘We do it everyday. We typically do it during people’s testimony,’ he said. ‘This is what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas.’
Gaetz insisted that he was not directed to issue the tweet by the Trump or anyone inside the administration. He did not tell the Daily Beast how he knew about Cohen’s alleged philandering, either.
Same time: Donald Trump arrived in Hanoi for a summit with Kim Jong Un exactly as the former fixer he has branded a liar arrived on Capitol Hill
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen – who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress – appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized
Aide: Michael Cohen was accompanied by Lanny Davis (left), the long-term Clinton advisor who is acting as his personal attorney
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill later in the evening, Gaetz said his tweet ‘speaks for itself’ and reporters should ‘tune in’ to the Wednesday hearing to find out what he knows.
He confirmed that he had not spoken to the president about the allegation.
‘I think the President’s a little busy saving us from nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula to be worried about my Twitter feed,’ he contended.
He told the Daily Beast he believes that Cohen’s marriage is fair game, because it speaks to the ‘veracity’ of the congressman’s testimony. One of Cohen’s admitted crimes is deceit.
Cohen apologized to senators on Tuesday for lying in previous testimony as he started three days of testimony on Capitol Hill, where the topics will include racist remarks he’s heard from the president and allegations of criminal activity on the part of Trump.
Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein told DailyMail.com that Cohen – who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress – appeared credible to lawmakers and apologized to them.
‘He appeared credible to me today, and he apologized, he said he was going away, you know, he understands, and I think he made efforts to be absolutely truthful,’ she said.
Cohen’s credibility has been questioned given his admission he lied to lawmakers when he appeared before the House and Senate intelligence committees in 2017.
Feinstein declined to offer specific details on what Cohen, who was known as Trump’s fixer, discussed with committee members.
‘The part I was in, which is about two hours, umm, he answered questions, he was really – it’s classified, so I can’t tell you much. I think that most of us know that this is very complicated picture,’ she said.
Cohen’s appearance on Tuesday was behind closed doors so lawmakers could grill him on a variety of matters, including Trump’s business dealings with Russia.
As he gave evidence Cohen also learned that he was disbarred in New York because of his felony conviction in a ruling which prevents him practicing law. He had not attempted to fight the move.
Trump and his legal team have repeatedly branded Cohen as a liar, and say he cooperated with prosecutors and furnished false information to get a reduced jail sentence.