TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Bar's Grievance Committee has found "no probable cause" that U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz violated standards of the legal profession in connection with a February message sent via Twitter to President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, a message for which Gaetz later apologized.
The Grievance Committee finding does not, however, preclude a reopening of the case, according to Bar rules.
Gaetz, who represents Northwest Florida in Congress, noted the decision — confirmed for the Daily News by Bar Director of Communications Francine Walker — in a Wednesday evening post on Twitter.
The Florida Bar has informed me that the Grievance Committee found “No Probable Cause” that I violated the rules of my profession. They are taking no disciplinary action against me & are sending a letter of advice.
I thank the Bar committee members for their sound judgment.
"The Florida Bar has informed me that the Grievance Committee found 'No Probable Cause' that I violated the rules of my profession. They are taking no disciplinary action against me & are sending a letter of advice," Gaetz said on Twitter.
"I thank the Bar committee members for their sound judgment," Gaetz continued, ending his tweet with a "thumbs-up" graphic.
The Grievance Committee's letter of advice could provide him with some suggestions regarding expectations for his future conduct as a member of the Florida Bar, Gaetz said Wednesday.
And, according to the Bar's rules on Grievance Committee proceedings, "A finding of no probable cause by a grievance committee shall not preclude the reopening of the case and further proceedings therein."
According to Walker, the letter of advice likely will be issued Friday and become a public record.
The Florida Bar opened its investigation of Gaetz in connection with a tweet directed at Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and "fixer," on the eve of Cohen's testimony in front of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. In that testimony, Cohen accused Trump of criminal conduct in connection with a hush-money scheme involving a pornographic movie star.
Gaetz, a staunch ally of the president, suggested in the Twitter post that Cohen was having extramarital affairs. “Hey @MichaelCohen212," he wrote, "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. ...”
In the wake of suggestions from some quarters that the tweet could be interpreted as witness tampering, Gaetz deleted it. But the day after the tweet was posted, the Florida Bar announced it had opened an investigation based on complaints about the message.
Gaetz later apologized for the tweet in response to a tweet from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, in which she encouraged “all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties.”
Gaetz responded, “Speaker, I want to get to the truth too. While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry.”