Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, did not dispute a report Thursday that he hired a technology company to help rig online polls in his boss’s favor ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign and said what he did was at Trump’s direction.
Cohen responded on Twitter to a Wall Street Journal story that said Cohen had promised to pay $50,000 to a small firm run by the chief information officer at Liberty University in Virginia, where evangelical leader and Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr. is president.
“As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS,” Cohen wrote. “I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
According to the Journal article, John Gauger, who owns RedFinch Solutions, showed up at Trump Tower in New York in early 2015 expecting to collect $50,000 for his firm’s work.
Instead, Cohen presented a blue Walmart bag containing $12,000 to $13,000 in cash and a boxing glove that Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter, Gauger told the Journal. (Cohen denied to the Journal that he had paid cash.)
Gauger told the Journal that he never got the rest of what he claimed he was owed. But Cohen in early 2017 received a $50,000 reimbursement from Trump and his company for the RedFinch work, the Journal reported.
Cohen — who has since had a falling-out with Trump — also has said he helped arrange payments at Trump’s direction to silence women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a personal lawyer for Trump, disputed Cohen’s contention that he had approached RedFinch at Trump’s direction.
“The president has no knowledge that he did anything to mess around with polling data,” Giuliani said.
Asked whether Trump approved the payment, Giuliani said, “Trump did not authorize that. He would not have authorized a cash payment of any kind. He insisted everything be authorized by check.”
“It looks like Michael was doing some stealing,” Giuliani added. “We’re really surprised now. He’s a liar, he’s a disreputable lawyer who tape-records his client and lies to him about it, and now it looks like he’s a petty thief.”
Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations, tax evasion, lying to Congress and other charges unrelated to the RedFinch payment. He was sentenced last month to three years in prison, and is scheduled to testify before Congress next month before he begins his sentence.
According to the Journal, Cohen also instructed Gauger to create a @WomenForCohen Twitter account. Posts on the account, created in May 2016, described Cohen as a “sex symbol” and included other laudatory statements about the lawyer.
In a statement Thursday, Liberty University praised Gauger, calling him “one example of many outstanding LU employees who have made great contributions in their official roles and also enjoyed success as independent entrepreneurs, allowing them to enhance their capabilities and generate more revenue for their families while allowing the University to retain them on our team.”