The Florida Bar determined on Wednesday to proceed with an investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) following a tweet that allegedly threatened former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
A panel known as the Grievance Committee will be the next to decide if there is probable cause that the Florida Republican’s tweet broke rules for lawyers in Florida, where Gaetz is licensed as a lawyer.
Had the Florida Bar, in its initial review, determined that there was no need for discipline, the inquiry would have ended. But its decision to continue has warranted further investigation and signaled that Gaetz could be punished.
Florida Bar spokeswoman Francine Walker said that no more information is available at this time.
In a statement to the newspaper, a spokeswoman for Gaetz said that he "remains confident that the Florida Bar will not impair his vigorous and successful representation of his district.”
The investigation came as a result of a threatening tweet Gaetz made on February 27—shortly before Cohen’s House committee testimony: “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, which has since been deleted, gained viral attention from both authorities and the public. Legal experts said that his remarks are comparable to witness intimidation. Fellow Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott labeled the tweet “disgusting.” Former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Schaub responded to Gaetz with the federal statute number regarding witness tampering.