Your Florida Man has finally done it, Fort Walton Beach.
Congressman Matt Gaetz, proud representative of the Sunshine State’s First District, just made the evolution from plain old creepy behavior to tampering-with-a-witness territory.
A self-described “Libertarian-leaning Republican,” a champion of Florida as the new Wild West frontier, and all of 36 years old, Gaetz has finally worked his way up from infantile harassment of freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, to getting into some real legal trouble.
Telling TMZ that he would “swipe right” — a reference to the dating app Tinder — for the opportunity to “write a cannabis bill with” Ocasio-Cortez isn’t illegal. Calling her the “attractive lady from Queens ”and trying to capitalize on her fame by association isn’t a crime. (Although put together it may be grounds for a restraining order and/or a psych evaluation.)
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But witness tampering, now that’s really something.
Gaetz is supposed to be an attorney, so The Florida Bar has stepped in and is investigating Gaetz’s conduct for sending former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen a threatening tweet just before he was to appear before an open session of the House Oversight Committee to testify. He could face ethics sanctions from Congress as well.
Here’s what Gaetz tweeted:
“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 seemed to be intimidating a witness about to tell lawmakers how Trump conspired to silence a porn star with whom he had an affair, and then conceal the hush-money deal.
I’d like to be a fly on the wall when Gaetz explains to Bar lawyers how he didn’t know it was against the law to threaten a witness.
“Oh, I confused Twitter with Neverland!”
“Well, we all have girlfriends, don’t we?”
But we won’t have to wait long for a response.
Gaetz deleted the threatening tweet and issued an apology “4 referencing” Cohen’s family in the public square.
“Regardless of disagreements, family members should be off-limits from attacks from representatives, senators & presidents, including myself,” he wrote on Twitter. “Let’s leave the Cohen family alone.”
Some psychiatrist ought to take a whack at that Freudian slip of including himself grammatically among presidents.
Misplaced affection is what got him in trouble in the first place.
He threatened Cohen for love. That stirring, mind-usurping kind of love one can only have for the kind of hero that is President Donald Trump.
Gaetz loves this president so much he describes himself on Twitter through Trump’s: “Florida man proudly serving the First District in Congress. ‘He’s a machine... handsome and going places’ says @realDonaldTrump #OpenGaetz”
He posts photos of himself looking giddy at Mar-A-Lago, coming out of Trump Tower in New York, with Trump at the White House — and that’s just the past couple of months.
There’s a lot more, like a Happy Halloween meal on #AirForceOne.
More recently, he posted a photo of himself in a dark gray hoodie against a flowered curtain with the hashtag #GuaidoChallenge, an apparent reference to Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan National Assembly president who has called for Nicolás Marduro to step down, and whom Trump supports.
His Twitter feed wavers between look-at-me desperation and adoration for anything President Trump says or does, no matter how relevant or irrelevant an issue. He feels absolutely no shame in brown-nosing.
When Trump was being criticized for his tepid response to the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Gaetz tried to sow discord among the writer’s supporters (those who abhor being cut up into pieces) by depicting Khashoggi as a hater of Jews. How is an assassination in Istanbul the business of the Florida Panhandle?
Gaetz has always had a weird edge, like when he wanted Florida to become an open-carry state, with 1.3 million concealed permit holders walking around like a paramilitary army. But, as Gaetz put it, his gun bill would restore rights “granted not by government but by God.”
He was then serving in the Florida Legislature, a job Matthew Louis Gaetz II inherited from his father, Dan Gaetz. Thankfully, his bill didn’t go anywhere.
But now he may be going before the Bar.
Don’t feel sorry for him.
Edward-Isaac Dovere, a staff writer for The Atlantic, says Gaetz took a call from Trump about the Cohen tweet. The president was calling from Hanoi, where he was negotiating a deal with Kim Jong Un that went south.
“I was happy to do it for you,” Gaetz reportedly said. “You just keep killing it.”
Gaetz told other journalists seeking confirmation that he doesn’t talk about his conversations with Trump. But on Twitter, he implied a denial.
“Fake News!” tweeted Trump’s disciple.
I say Leonardo DeCaprio, sans the facial hair, could play Matt Gaetz in this movie.