NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 12: Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court after his sentencing hearing, December 12, 2018 in New York City. Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to several charges, including multiple counts of tax evasion, a campaign finance violation and lying to Congress. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, exits federal court after his sentencing hearing, December 12, 2018 in New York City. Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to several charges, including multiple counts of tax evasion, a campaign finance violation and lying to Congress.
By Tara Law
January 17, 2019

Michael Cohen says Donald Trump asked him to pay a tech company to rig online polls in Trump’s favor before his presidential campaign.

The President’s longtime former lawyer acknowledged a story by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, that reported Cohen promised $50,000 to John Gauger, who runs the small tech company RedFinch and is the chief technology officer for Liberty University in Virginia. Gauger told the Journal that he had unsuccessfully tried to manipulate two online polls to benefit Trump.

Cohen confirmed the story and said he was sorry for his actions in a tweet.

“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,” Cohen wrote.

Although he was once one of Trump’s closest advisors, Cohen has repeatedly shown willingness to collaborate with officials investigating the president and his allies – and to speak openly about his years working for Trump – since he was convicted of eight Federal charges in August and sentenced to three years in prison.

Gauger told the Journal that Cohen had handed over about $12,000 to $13,000 in cash and a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter. Gauger said that he was never paid the rest of the money he was promised. However, court documents say that Cohen requested a separate $50,000 reimbursement for “tech services” at the same time he asked for a $130,000 payment for a hush payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels.

According to Gauger, Cohen asked him to write a computer script that would repeatedly vote for Trump in a CNBC online poll aiming to identify the U.S.’s top business leaders in January 2014. In February 2015, Cohen appealed to Gauger to rig a poll on influential right-wing news site Drudge Report.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Journal that Cohen’s request for reimbursement only proved that Cohen is a thief. “If one thing has been established, it’s that Michael Cohen is completely untrustworthy,” Giuliani said.

Gauger also said that Cohen had asked him to do other work for him during Trump’s candidacy, including setting up the Twitter account @WomenforCohen. The account, which has the bio, “Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!” highlighted Cohen’s involvement in Trump’s events and campaign activities.

Write to Tara Law at tara.law@time.com.

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