The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney and self described “fixer”, hired Liberty University’s chief of information officer and owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, John Gauger, to rig polls for Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
According to Gauger, Cohen asked RedFinch Solutions, a small technology company, to rig a 2014 CNBC online poll designed to identify leading businessmen in Donald Trump’s favor by writing a computer script to vote repeatedly for him. In February 2015, before Donald Trump officially entered the race, Gauger was asked to rig a Drudge online poll on potential GOP candidates. Gauger failed both times – in the CNBC poll, Trump did not place in the top 100 candidates and in the Drudge poll, Trump received about 24,000 votes and ranked fifth.
Michael Cohen also tasked RedFinch to create @WomenForCohen, a Twitter account that is still active and sports a bio that says, “Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!”
Although Michael Cohen received reimbursement of $50,000 from Trump Organization, he still has not paid RedFinch the full amount he owes them, Gauger says. The payment to Cohen was made largely from Donald Trump’s personal account and was based upon a handwritten note from Cohen to Trump Org officials in 2017, the Journal reports. The note asked for reimbursement of $50,000 for “tech services” from a technology company “during and in connection with the campaign”.
While Cohen’s connections to RedFinch are newly reported, the reimbursement request was detailed in paragraph 37 of the charging document filed with the court in August. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts at that time, including to a campaign finance violation that involved paying hush money to silence two women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Donald Trump. In December, he was sentenced to three years in jail.
Gauger told the Wall Street Journal he met Cohen in 2012. Cohen visited Liberty University with Donald Trump when he was invited by Jerry Falwell Jr, now a fervent supporter of President Trump, to give a speech. He and Gauger were introduced, John helped Cohen create an Instagram account, and offered his cell phone number.
Over the ensuing years, Cohen not only asked Gauger for help in promoting his own internet presence and didn’t pay him fully for that help, he also promised Gauger work within Trump’s organization and the Trump campaign that never materialized.
Gauger’s attorney, Charles E. James Jr, says that federal investigators have interviewed Gauger in relation to his relationship with Cohen, spanning from when they met in 2012 to when he last spoke to Cohen, immediately after the raid on Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office in April.
Cohen tweeted a response to the Wall Street Journal’s report, saying he was acting on behalf of President Trump.
Michael Cohen denies one accusation that Gauger made to the Journal, namely the claim that Cohen met with Gauger in his Trump Org office and handed him a “blue Wal-Mart bag” that contained between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and a boxing glove that “Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter”. Cohen denies that any payments were made in cash, saying, “All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check.”
Gauger claims that Cohen promised to pay him the remainder of the $50,000 he owed but never did.
Trump Organization declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report. Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, commented, “If one thing has been established, it’s that Michael Cohen is completely untrustworthy” and pointed out that the report of Cohen paying RedFinch less than he was reimbursed for shows Trump’s former attorney of a decade to be a thief.
The fact that Cohen received reimbursement of $50,000 based on a handwritten note that did not detail what the reimbursement was for, indicates his trustworthiness within the organization at the time, however.
Mr. Cohen will be testifying on February 7 in front of the House Oversight Committee and will be answering question about his involvement with President Trump over the decade he was employed at Trump’s lawyer, including his role in the 2016 presidential campaign.