An internet technology firm has publicly accused President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen of failing to pay for services meant to help the Trump campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
According to the Journal, Cohen had hired John Gauger, who owns the small tech firm RedFinch Solutions LLC and is chief information officer at Liberty University, to try to manipulate two online polls as Trump was preparing to enter the 2016 presidential race. According to the report, Cohen agreed to pay Gauger $50,000 but failed to produce the full amount. Gauger’s account of the payment is a strange one:
In his Trump Organization office, Mr. Cohen surprised [Gauger] by giving him a blue Walmart bag containing between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and, randomly, a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter…
Earlier on, in 2014, Cohen had also asked Gauger to help Trump do well in a CNBC online poll ranking the country’s top business leaders. According to the Journal, Gauger was hired to write a computer script to repeatedly vote for Trump. He failed to land Trump in the top 100.
As part of their agreement, Cohen also asked Gauger to create a Twitter account called “@WomenForCohen,” which was opened in 2016 and shared enthusiastic messages about Cohen’s character and appearance, and it promoted Cohen’s appearances and statements supporting Trump. The account’s profile currently reads: “Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!”
For this work, according to the Journal, Cohen promised and was reimbursed $50,000 by the Trump Organization, largely with funds from the president’s personal account. Cohen told the Journal that he did not pay Gauger in cash but that “all monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” and he confirmed the Journal’s story to CNN and said his actions were “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.”
Cohen’s reimbursement for Gauger’s work came around the same time he was reimbursed for expenses related to the hush money payments for Stormy Daniels, the Journal reported. Cohen’s payments to Gauger were mentioned in the August charging documents drafted by federal prosecutors, who concluded he had not told the Trump Organization what specific “tech services” he had paid for.
Cohen is expected to testify before the House Oversight Committee in February, when he will likely discuss the hush money payments and other topics related to the Trump Organization and his dealings with President Trump.