After a sitting Republican member of Congress appeared to engage in what most prosecutors would likely consider a case of potential witness intimidation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi entered into gently scolding mom mode with a tweeted follow up reminding House representatives of her earlier warning against doing anything that could prevent Congressional committees from exercising their oversight.
Speaker Pelosi initially announced her stern policy against pressuring witnesses when former Trump attorney Michael Cohen rescheduled his testimony in front of the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees after initially postponing his voluntary appearance due to concerns about the safety of his family.
Michael Cohen will come before the @OversightDems & @HouseIntel Committees next week. Congress has an independent duty under the Constitution to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch, and any efforts to intimidate family members or pressure witnesses will not be tolerated. https://t.co/VDc6zE6lwH
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 21, 2019
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Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tested Pelosi’s resolve with a shamefully reprehensible tweet (which he eventually deleted) that sounds like the Trump-loving congressman has been spending a good deal of time binge-watching old episodes of The Sopranos in his spare time.
As clearly transgressive as Rep. Gaetz’s implied threat may be, Speaker Pelosi did not immediately punish the knuckle-dragging congressman with the level of retribution that such conduct truly deserves….at least not yet.
Instead, the House Speaker merely reminded her colleagues that any comments that they make to the press or on social media can interfere with the crucial role congressional committees play in overseeing the executive branch — all while the Speaker metaphorically slapped the stick of a House Ethics committee investigation into her palm as an additional warning of what could happen if further transgressions occur.
I encourage 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. https://t.co/NDnxkaiFCA pic.twitter.com/DIIgSHgeb5
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 26, 2019
After he was savaged on Twitter for his thug-like post, Rep. Gaetz tried to spin his tweet as “witness testing,” rather than the “witness tampering” that a prosecutor might consider it, claiming that “this is what it looks like to compete in the marketplace of ideas,” in an interview with The Daily Beast.
As a Republican, Rep. Gaetz is likely against any sort of marketplace regulation, such as the inspection of food to ensure that spoiled comestibles don’t poison the populace and the supervision of electrical appliances to make certain that they don’t contain faulty wiring that can cause a fire.
Apparently, he is equally opposed to the concept that one should only enter the market place of ideas with fact-based offerings or risk the consequences which in this case, besides failure, could still mean a ethics censure by his congressional colleagues.
Speaker Pelosi’s even-tempered response to Rep. Gaetz’s mob-boss behavior is the velvet glove that hides the power of the iron fist that is the House Ethics Committee lurking within. If Rep. Gaetz isn’t already worried about how this will affect his congressional career, he should be — at least that’s what the marketplace of ideas is saying right now.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.