Michael Cohen, the president’s ex-lawyer and “fixer,” said Thursday that he was directed by President Donald Trump to pay the head of a small technology company thousands in 2015 to rig online polls “for the sole benefit of” Trump.
The comments came in response to a report by The Wall Street Journal that Cohen had hired the IT firm RedFinch to rig the polls in favor of Trump. The President’s former lawyer confirmed the report on Twitter, writing that Trump knew about what he was trying to do.
“What I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of [Mr. Trump]. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
Cohen’s claim was immediately repudiated by Trump’s current lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said, “My response will be a cleaned-up version of ‘Bullshit.’ This is not true. The president did not know about this if it happened.”
Cohen was to pay John Gauger, the head of the company, $50,000 for his services. Although Gauger says he was never fully paid, a government document shows Cohen was reimbursed that same amount by Trump and his organization.
Both the Trump Organization and an attorney for Gauger refused to comment.
Giuliani, on his part, said the document only proves that Cohen is a thief who stole $37,000.
Federal prosecutors mentioned the reimbursement when they charged Cohen in August of last year. The charging document said Cohen had asked for a $50,000 reimbursement for “tech services” he had acquired to help the Trump campaign. People familiar with the matter said the company in question is RedFinch.
Gauger told the Journal that Cohen asked him in early 2014 to help Trump score well in a CNBC online poll of business leaders and a 2015 Drudge Report poll of potential Republican candidates. Both attempts were unsuccessful.