Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former attorney, tried to rig online polls in favor of Trump by paying a man to code an algorithm that would vote for Trump in two public surveys, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Rothfeld, Rob Barry, and Joe Palazzolo.
Cohen hired the same man — John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC — to create a Twitter account called @WomenForCohen that attempted to establish the lawyer as a sex symbol.
In January 2014, Gauger attempted to rig a CNBC poll to get Trump on a list of influential business leaders. Despite the rigging, Trump ended up losing the poll and posted this angry tweet, as unearthed by the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale and Politico’s Kyle Cheney:
According to the WSJ report, Cohen said that Trump knew about the rigging and provided personal funds to pay Gauger.
Even though Trump didn’t win the CNBC poll, Cohen later asked Gauger to rig a Drudge Report article of potential Republican candidates in February 2015, the Journal reported. That time, Trump made it into the top five. Even though Gauger provided these services, he claims that Cohen never paid him the total $50,000 he was promised. The two met at Trump Tower in 2015 and Cohen reportedly gave Gauger between $12,000 and $13,000 in a Walmart shopping bag.
Cohen — who was sentenced to three years in prison in December for campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and lying under oath — tweeted Thursday that he regretted his actions but blamed the poll-rigging on Trump:
What may be even more regrettable for Cohen — and harder to blame on Trump — is the Twitter account @WomenForCohen that Cohen reportedly paid Gauger to create.
The account profile states its love for Cohen as a “strong, pit bull, sex symbol ...” and was managed by a female friend of Gauger’s, according to the Journal, with the idea that elevating Cohen would boost Trump’s credibility. However, Cohen never told the Trump organization he was using its funds to pay Gauger to make this account.
Here’s a sampling of the account’s tweets:
Cohen has pleaded guilty to charges already, but the report raises more questions about his campaign finance spending. It also gives Congress even more subjects to ask questions about when Cohen testifies before the House Oversight Committee on February 7 — when Democrats can ask him, under oath, about things he did for Trump during the years he was the president’s personal lawyer and fixer.