Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is back in the headlines for a meeting he had back in 2015 in Trump Tower. Veuer’s Nick Cardona has the details.
WASHINGTONÂ â€“Â President Donald Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen paid a technology expert to rig online polls in Trump’s favor, according to The Wall Street Journal.Â
John Gauger, the owner ofÂ Red Finch SolutionsÂ and chief information officer at Liberty University, said Cohen offered him $50,000 to manipulate two newsÂ sites’ polls, the Journal reported Thursday, citing a government document and a person familiar with the matter.Â
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.Â
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.Â Â
But Cohen did denyÂ giving Gauger cash. “All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” he said, according to the Journal.
Gauger did not appear to have much success at moving the needle in the polls he was paid to manipulate. 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.Â
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.Â
Cohen also asked Gauger to create a Twitter account with the handle @WomenForCohen that would be run by a female friend of Gauger’s to portray Cohen as a “sex symbol” and hype his statements in favor of Trump’s presidential campaign, the Journal reported.
“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 activeÂ with just 527 followers as of Thursday morning.
“We can’t wait!!! You will do a fantastic job! You are amazing leader speaker #ThanksDonald #AmericaFirst,” reads a Dec. 28, 2016 tweet, the last oneÂ posted to the account. That tweet was in response to one from Cohen’s announcing he would be an honoree at one of the pre-inaugural balls after Trump’s election victory.Â
From Trump fixer to federal inmate: Timeline of Michael Cohen’s role in Russia probe
Gauger said the last time he spoke to Cohen was in April 2018, after the lawyer’s office, home and hotel room were raided by the FBI, the Journal reported. “Itâ€™s not a big deal,” Gauger said Cohen told him about the investigation.Â
Last month, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to crimes related to tax evasion, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress.Â
More: Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, is sentenced to three years in prison for ‘dirty deeds’
Although Gauger said Cohen never paid him the full promised amount, Cohen did ask the Trump Organization in January 2017 to reimburse him $50,000 for “tech services,”Â prosecutors for the Southern District of New York said when Cohen was charged in August.
The request was made in a handwritten note, along with his bill for the $130,000 in hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels. That payment comprised one of the campaign finance violations to which Cohen pleaded guilty. He claims payment, which constituted anÂ illegal campaign contribution, was made at Trump’s direction.Â
More: President Trump denies Michael Cohen’s claims of ‘dirty deeds’
The Journal reported that Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said if Cohen requested a $50,000 reimbursement but only paid Gauger $12,000 to $13,000, it shows Cohen is a “thief.”
“If one thing has been established, itâ€™s that Michael Cohen is completely untrustworthy,” Giuliani told the Journal. Since calling Cohen “an honest, honorable lawyer” in May 2018, Giuliani has sharply questioned Cohen’s credibility, calling himÂ “pathetic” and a “serial liar.”Â
At his sentencing, Cohen said he committed his crimes out of “blind loyalty” to Trump and that he felt it was his “duty to cover up his dirty deeds.” Cohen is expected to be grilled about those “dirty deeds” when he testifies Feb. 7 before the now Democratically controlled House Oversight Committee.Â
More: Top Democrats warn Trump against obstruction ahead of Michael Cohen’s public testimony
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Alex Brandon, AP EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ, AFP/GETTY IMAGES ELIZABETH WILLIAMS VIA AP EVAN AGOSTINI, INVISION/AP