US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted Thursday that he once paid a man to manipulate two online polls relating to his boss.
Cohen confirmed a report to that effect in the Wall Street Journal, and claimed the payments were carried out at Trump’s behest.
According to the paper, in 2014 Cohen asked John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions, to write a script to repeatedly vote for Trump in an effort to rig a CNBC online poll on leading business leaders. Gauger failed to get Trump into the top 100.
In 2015 as Trump was preparing to launch his presidential campaign, Gauger was asked to help rig a Drudge Report online poll on leading Republican candidates. Trump came in fifth with five percent of the vote.
Gauger also said that while he was promised $50,000 for his work, he was eventually provided only around $13,000 in cash. However, the paper reported that Cohen still charged the Trump Organization the full $50,000.
It was not clear how much knowledge Trump or his organization had of Cohen’s actions, though the attorney asserted they were taken at Trump’s direction.
Cohen, who also paid Gauger to create a social media account to promote himself, confirmed the main elements of the Journal story.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 17, 2019
Cohen, who was the real estate billionaire’s right-hand man and fixer at the Trump Organization in New York at the time, pleaded guilty last year to charges that he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments ahead of the 2016 election to women who claimed credibly to have had extramarital affairs with Trump.
Cohen implicated Trump in that crime, saying he directed the payments.
The New York lawyer, 52, was sentenced to three months in jail for the campaign finance violation and other charges.
But his incarceration has been delayed while he provides support to ongoing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and Trump’s finances.
He is scheduled to testify to the newly Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee on February 7 on his work for Trump.