The Florida Bar has opened an investigation into a U.S. congressman from Florida after it received a complaint about a taunting tweet he made hours before President Donald Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before a U.S. House committee.
Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker said in an email Wednesday that an investigation has been opened into Republican Matt Gaetz, but confidentiality rules prevent her from offering any further details.
Gaetz, who is a Florida Bar member, has 15 days to respond.
After an initial evaluation, the case is sent to a branch office and then a grievance committee, if Bar officials believe it has merit.
If the grievance committee finds probable cause, charges are filed with the Florida Supreme Court and then a judge is appointed to hear the case.
Gaetz tweeted on Tuesday without offering any evidence that the world is "about to learn a lot" about Trump's former lawyer and that Cohen should talk to his wife ahead of his testimony Wednesday.
"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..." the tweet said. It was not clear what prompted the allegation.
Gaetz, a Trump ally, is not a member of the committee questioning Cohen. Still, the tweet was extraordinary because his remarks appeared to be threatening or intimidating a witness on the eve of a highly anticipated public hearing. Gaetz later apologized and said he was deleting the tweet.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Stacey Plasket, a Democratic delegate to Congress from the U.S. Virgin Islands, suggested during the hearing that Gaetz should be referred to the House Ethics Committee for his tweet and possibly "referred for criminal prosecution."