Michael Cohen, formerly President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, paid thousands of dollars to a small tech company in 2015 to rig online polls in then-candidate Trump’s favor, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
Cohen reportedly gave John Gauger — owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC and chief information officer at Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s Liberty University in Virginia — more than $10,000 of the promised $50,000 for his efforts to fix the polls.
Gauger said Cohen handed him a Walmart bag loaded with about $12,000 in cash during a 2015 meeting at Cohen's Trump Organization office. Cohen also threw in a boxing glove he said was once worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter.But he never paid Gauger the remainder of the promised $50,000, the Journal said.
Cohen did not deny the report in a tweet Thursday morning, saying, "What I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of" Trump.
"I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it," wrote the man who once said he would "take a bullet" for the president.
Cohen disputed Gauger’s assertion that he was paid cash, however, saying “all monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” the Journal reported.
In the end, Gauger’s efforts to manipulate the polls were relatively fruitless:
In January 2014, Cohen asked Gauger to sway a CNBC online poll on the top American business leaders with a program that could vote for Trump repeatedly, the Journal report said. But Trump did not break into the top 100.
In February 2015, Cohen asked Gauger to boost Trump in a Drudge Report poll on potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, according to Gauger. Trump ended up coming in fifth with 5 percent of the vote.
Cohen also reportedly had Gauger create a Twitter account to promote Cohen, paint him as a “sex symbol”, and help him promote Trump’s campaign.
"Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!" reads the account profile. The profile was created in May 2016 and remains active with just 527 followers as of Thursday morning.
Despite failing to pay Gauger the agreed upon $50,000, Cohen asked the Trump Organization to reimburse him the full amount in January 17, according to Southern District of New York prosecutors.