Michael Cohen paid a tech firm with ties to Jerry Falwell’s evangelical college to rig online polls in President Donald Trump’s favor.
Trump’s former fixer paid John Gauger, the IT tech at Liberty University and the head of RedFinch Solutions, with a bag of cash and a boxing glove — and once again directly implicated the president in the shady scheme.
Gauger told The Wall Street Journal that he showed up at Trump Tower in 2015 to try to collect the $50,000 owed to him, and Cohen handed him a blue Walmart bag containing $12,000 to $13,000 in cash, and “randomly, a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter.”
Cohen also tasked Gauger with creating the @WomenForCohen Twitter account, which describes Cohen as a “pit bull” and a “sex symbol.”
The Twitter account has 619 followers and hasn’t posted since December 2016.
Gauger appears to have had trouble tipping the scales in Trump’s favor.
Cohen reportedly asked for his help in swaying a January 2014 CNBC poll to name the country’s top business leaders. Gauger wrote a computer script to repeatedly vote for Trump, but was still unable to get him into the top 100 candidates.
In February 2015, Cohen asked for help in rigging a Drudge Report poll of potential Republican candidates. However, Trump only managed to take fifth place, with about 24,000 votes, despite the assistance of RedFinch.
Trump came in behind now-Housing and Urban Development head Ben Carson and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won the poll.
Gauger told The Wall Street Journal he expected to be paid $50,000 for his efforts, but Cohen only handed over about a quarter of the cash.
Cohen, however, asked the Trump Organization in January 2017 to reimburse him for the full $50,000 for “tech services,” prosecutors noted when Cohen was charged in August with a host of charges including tax fraud and campaign violations.
Trump’s former personal attorney, who has pleaded guilty to all charges against him, told CNN that what he did “was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald J. Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
The 52-year-old disgraced lawyer has been credited with securing Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement for Trump. The Liberty University president became the first major evangelical to back the reality TV star’s White House bid. Liberty issued a statement calling Gauger “one example among many outstanding LU employee who have made great contributions in their official roles and also enjoyed success as independent entrepreneurs.”
Trump’s attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, blasted Cohen as “a serial liar and now even a petty thief.”
“The president didn’t know about it and he didn’t know he stole that money,” Giuliani told the New York Daily News. “If he contracted with that company, he wouldn’t have had authority from the campaign to do that. He was on his own.”
Cohen is set to serve three years in prison after copping to tax fraud, making false statements to a bank, a campaign finance violation and lying to Congress about negotiations for a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
He previously implicated the Trump in a plot that included making hush money payments to a porn star and a former Playboy Playmate to keep quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.
Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York wrote in court filings that Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1” in handling payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal just before the election.
Trump has lashed out at Cohen for pleading guilty and cooperating with prosecutors “to get a sentence reduced.”
Cohen, meanwhile, plans on publicly testifying before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7.
By Chris Sommerfeldt and Denis Slattery, New York Daily News