Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is under fire for a now-deleted tweet directed at President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen — and one former assistant U.S. attorney with firsthand experience says it reminds him of mafia tactics.
During a break in Cohen’s Wednesday testimony before the House Oversight Committee, CNN legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney Elie Honig weighed in on a probe into Gaetz’s conduct opened by the Florida Bar Association.
“If all that happens is the Florida Bar investigates, he’s lucky,” Honig said. “Because I think prosecutors should be taking a hard look at this.”
Honig said it would be “impossible” to see the tweet from Gaetz — directed at Cohen and hinting at information about alleged girlfriends — “without seeing an intent to intimidate.”
Watch the video below:
.@eliehonig on Rep. Gaetz tweet: "I used to do mafia cases — that was the kind of stuff you would see out of real-life, New York City, cosa nostra gangsters."
Goes on to compare Gaetz's stroll through the committee room to the mob sending people to sit in courtrooms. pic.twitter.com/3fY3NiVwwS
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) February 27, 2019
“I used to do mafia cases,” Honig explained. “That was the kind of stuff you would see out of real-life, New York City, Cosa Nostra gangsters.”
The former prosecutor also argued that Gaetz’s presence in the committee room ahead of Cohen’s testimony — despite not being a member of the committee — was reminiscent of mafia tactics intended to intimidate witnesses on the stand by sending various people associated with them to sit in the courtroom.
“But there’s messages being sent,” he added. “And I saw that, and I was sitting in the green room with Carl Bernstein, and he said the same thing, I think he was trying to send a message there further to the intimidation.”
Honig’s biography on the website for the law firm Lowenstein Sandler includes eight years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he is credited with successfully prosecuting “more than 100 members and associates of La Cosa Nostra, including bosses and other high-ranking members of the Gambino and Genovese organized crime families.”
Gaetz deleted his initial tweet late Tuesday, writing in a subsequent tweet that it was not his intent to threaten Cohen despite how his comments had been interpreted.