Matt Gaetz’s apology to Cohen only makes his witness tampering worse: Former White House ethics lawyer
Matt Gaetz speaks at House Judiciary hearing (U.S. House/screen grab)

Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told MSNBC on Thursday that Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz risked making his exposure to charges of witness tampering and intimidation even more likely by continuing to contact Michael Cohen, who he publicly threatened 24 hours before Cohen was set to testify to Congress about President Donald Trump's alleged criminal activities. Gaetz is being investigated by the Florida Bar for his actions.

"It is a threat all right, he said 'I'm going to tell everybody about your girlfriends,'" said Painter. "Why? Because it's the day before Michael Cohen was going to testify in front of the United States House of Representatives."

"We have a United States congressman who is engaging in witness intimidation," Painter continued. "And then I hear that later on he contacted Michael Cohen somehow and apologized? He is making contact with the witness one-on-one, and if he's doing that, that just makes it even worse."

"He should not be unilaterally contacting the witness, trying to influence the testimony," he went on. "That is witness tampering, it's a federal offense, and it's very dangerous in this context."

"We cannot have a United States congressman, or anyone else, threatening a witness before testimony is given to the United States House."

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