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Michael Cohen offered Liberty University CIO $50,000 to rig two online polls for Trump, report says

  • January 17, 2019


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.

WASHINGTON – 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. 

John Gauger, the owner of Red Finch Solutions and chief information officer at Liberty University, said Cohen offered him $50,000 to manipulate two news sites’ polls, the Journal reported Thursday, citing a government document and a person familiar with the matter. 

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.  

But Cohen did deny 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. 

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 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 active 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 one 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. 

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. “It’s not a big deal,” Gauger said Cohen told him about the investigation. 

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. 

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,” 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 an illegal campaign contribution, was made at Trump’s direction. 

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, it’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 him “pathetic” and a “serial liar.” 

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. 

More: Top Democrats warn Trump against obstruction ahead of Michael Cohen’s public testimony

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Robin Bell, left, and Sorane Yamahira look at their work projected on the Trump International Hotel, July 23, 2018, in Washington. In a city with a long tradition of leftist street activism, Bell has become something of a local celebrity. Every few weeks, Bell puts messages of protest on the side of the Trump International Hotel. He’s called President Donald Trump a pig and a racist, used smiling poop emojis, and taunted the president with images of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Alex Brandon, APAdult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks outside U.S. Federal Court with her lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) in Lower Manhattan, New York on April 16, 2018.
Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims to have had a consensual sexual encounter with Donald Trump a decade ago, said April 17, 2018 that she is pursuing legal action against the president because she is “done being bullied.””I’m tired of being threatened, intimidating me, and trying to say that you’ll ruin my life and take all my money and my house,” Daniels said on ABC’s “The View.””I’m done being bullied,” Daniels said of legal threats from Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who is now embroiled in his own legal troubles.”I’m done,” Daniels said.
EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ, AFP/GETTY IMAGESIn this courtroom sketch, Joanna Hendon, right, one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, speaks as the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, left, sits next to one of his own attorneys Todd Harrison, center, with porn star Stormy Daniels visible in the audience between Cohen and Harrison, during a federal court hearing in New York, April 16, 2018. Attorneys for Cohen and Trump tried to persuade U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood to delay prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices seized in the raids on the grounds that many of them are protected by attorney-client privilege. ELIZABETH WILLIAMS VIA APCBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King, left, Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti, CNN news anchor Don Lemon and FOX News talk show host Sean Hannity pose for a selfie at The Hollywood Reporter’s annual 35 Most Powerful People in Media event at The Pool on Thursday, April 12, 2018, in New York.
In court hearings on April 16, 2018, it was revealed that the client list of presidential lawyer Michael Cohen also includes Sean Hannity, one of the president’s biggest supporters.

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  • Robin Bell, left, and Sorane Yamahira look at their3 of 18
  • Michael Cohen leaves the U.S. Courthouse in New York4 of 18
  • Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for President5 of 18
  • Michael Cohen, longtime personal lawyer and confidante6 of 18
  • Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as7 of 18
  • In this courtroom sketch, Joanna Hendon, right, one8 of 18
  • Attorney Michael Cohen, US President Donald J. Trump's9 of 18
  • (L to R) Todd Harrison and Joseph Evans, attorneys10 of 18
  • Michael Cohen takes a phone call  as he sits outside11 of 18
  • CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King, left, Stormy12 of 18
  • In this Sept. 19, 2017 file photo, President Trump's13 of 18
  • The actress Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage14 of 18
  • Michael Cohen's lawyer David Schwartz appeared on Megyn15 of 18
  • Michael Cohen, right, President Donald Trump's personal16 of 18
  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney,17 of 18
  • (L to R) Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect18 of 18

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