Michael Cohen, a former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, said Thursday that he paid a man to rig online opinion polls to favor his former boss ahead of his 2016 White House bid.
Cohen corroborated a Wall Street Journal report stating that in 2014 he paid John Gauger, the head of RedFinch Solutions, a small IT firm, to develop computer code that would place multiple votes for Trump in an online poll for CNBC. In 2015, the firm repeated the effort in an online poll for the popular news aggregator DrudgeReport.com.
In an effort to boost his national profile, Cohen also directed Gauger to create the @WomenForCohen Twitter account, which touted the attorney as a “pit bull” and “sex symbol,” while promoting several of his interviews during the election.
— Women For Cohen (@WomenForCohen) October 4, 2016
— Women For Cohen (@WomenForCohen) November 8, 2016
— Women For Cohen (@WomenForCohen) November 22, 2016
Further, the Journal report said Gauger, who is chief information officer at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia, was paid over $12,000 in cash for the job, allegedly less than the $50,000 he was promised. Cohen disputed this claim, insisting that Gauger was paid by check.
Cohen, who also reportedly paid Gauger to create a social media account to promote himself, confirmed the main elements of the Journal’s story on social media, tweeting: “As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 17, 2019
Cohen was sentenced December 12 to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to several charges, including campaign finance violations and making false statements to Congress. Prosecutors say then-candidate Trump directed his lawyer to arrange the payments to buy the silence of pornographic actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign. Cohen, who claims President Trump directed the payments, has had his incarceration delayed while he provides support to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government officials.
He is scheduled to testify to the newly Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee on February 7 regarding his work for President Trump.
The Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.