Republican Rep. Gaetz warns Cohen he will play rough at House hearing

Hours before his scheduled public testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Michael Cohen received a warning, of sorts, from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., about what awaits him.

Gaetz’s taunt came after reports that Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime attorney, plans to testify Wednesday that his former boss was involved in an illegal scheme to use campaign funds to pay off porn actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to charges related to the hush money scheme.

The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is expected to be wide-ranging and to cover a number of topics that could be problematic for Trump.

The preview Gaetz offered of what he and other Republican members of the committee may bring up was cited by some political observers as highly improper and possibly illegal, under statutes that make it a crime to attempt to intimidate a witness in a federal proceeding.

Confronted on Capitol Hill shortly after he posted his tweet, Gaetz bristled at the suggestion his words might be considered witness tampering.

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Rep. Matt Gaetz throughout his political career
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Rep. Matt Gaetz throughout his political career
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach debates the deregulation bill during session on Friday, May 6, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fla.(AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, speaks in support of the parental trigger bill on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives Thursday, April 4, 2013, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. House Bill 867: Parent Empowerment in Education, passed on a 68-51 vote. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, left, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach confer during session on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Tallahassee, Fla.(AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, speaks of a "scorched earth" policy towards child sexual predators Tuesday April 1, 2014, in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a group of bills that will require sexual predators to be locked up longer, and require that more sexual predators be committed for psychiatric review once they finish their criminal sentences. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, center, confers with Rep. Jay Fano, R-Jacksonville, left, and Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R- Spring Hill during a session of the legislature on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, left, is congratulated by Rep. Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, center, and Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, as the House passed a tax cut bill he sponsored, Thursday, Feb . 11, 2016, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
House Judiciary Committee Member Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks to members of the media during a break in a closed hearing to interview Justice Department official Bruce G. Ohr on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018. Ohr will be interviewed as part of an investigation into decisions made by the department in 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 30: President Donald Trump takes a selfie with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in the House chamber after Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on January 30, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks during a rally hosted by FreedomWorks September 26, 2018 at the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington, DC. FreedomWorks hosted a rally to support U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to run for the House speaker as Òa principled, conservative alternative to current House Republican leadership.Ó (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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In Vietnam this week for his meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump is reportedly making time to watch Cohen testify.

In recent weeks, Trump has eased off his public comments about Cohen, who had been a frequent target on Twitter over his cooperation with investigators that could land the president in legal jeopardy.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders echoed Trump’s assertion that Cohen couldn’t be trusted.

“Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements,” Sanders said in a statement Tuesday. “Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same.”

Cohen is scheduled to begin serving a three-year sentence on May 6 for crimes including campaign finance violations stemming from the hush money payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

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