"I was happy to do it for you": Gaetz reportedly overheard on phone with Trump discussing Michael Cohen tweet

You know which tweet. The one that the Florida bar is investigating him for.

I’m as interested in the sourcing of this claim as I am the substance of it. How could Atlantic reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere possibly know what was said in a conversation between the president and a congressman, in such granular detail that he’d know what a vague line like “I was happy to do it for you” was in reference to? Did Gaetz (or Trump) have the call on speakerphone and someone in the room tipped Dovere to what was said?

What sort of idiot would make others privy to a discussion of apparent witness tampering?

One potential problem with this narrative: Gaetz has now apologized to Cohen for the tweet, publicly and (apparently) privately.

Did Trump put Gaetz up to apologizing to Cohen, if only to make the bad press from this go away? That would … not be in character for a man who almost never apologizes himself, especially to “disloyal” ex-cronies. Gaetz’s original tweet taunting Cohen with soon-to-be-revealed dirt about his “girlfriends” is much more quintessentially Trumpy than his apology was. And Dovere says the timeline doesn’t work:

Dovere’s report is making the rounds on social media today partly because it’s potentially fertile new ground for criminal liability for Trump. If Gaetz committed witness tampering and Trump conspired with him about it beforehand, there you go — something new for House Dems to impeach him over. Per Law & Crime, former ethics official Walter Shaub is already raising the possibility of conspiracy to the Florida bar:


I’m skeptical, though. If Trump wanted to humiliate Cohen with dirt about his alleged “girlfriends,” he would have handed it off to Jim Jordan or Mark Meadows or some other willing crony who, unlike Gaetz, had the opportunity to confront Cohen with the evidence on television yesterday. If they refused to do it for whatever reason, Trump could have tweeted about it himself — it wouldn’t be the first time he’s tried to intimidate Cohen on social media — or he could have handed it off to the Enquirer. Gaetz’s tweet reeks of something a minor crony aspiring to be a major one would take it upon himself to do without prompting in order to ingratiate himself to the boss. “I was happy to do it for you” probably meant “Look how loyal I am, chief, wiling to risk prison to rhetorically kick your enemies in the balls.” The initiative was Gaetz’s, I’d bet, not Trump’s.

But if Dovere’s reporting is right, it’s perfectly in character for Trump to have been pleased by such a zealous attempt to intimidate a witness against him. You don’t need to believe the president conspired in witness intimidation beforehand to believe that he condoned it after the fact.

Anyway, Gaetz is going to be Attorney General before Trump leaves office, assuming he’s not disbarred first. And maybe even then.