Michael Cohen in a tweet Thursday morning more or less confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that he paid an IT specialist in early 2015 for rigging two online polls in favor of President Trump.
The tweet said that what Cohen did was “at the direction of and for the sole benefit” of Trump. Cohen was reimbursed for the payment — purportedly some $12,000 handed to the specialist in cash, though Cohen claims it was a check — with $50,000 from Trump and his company, according to the Journal.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 17, 2019
Gauger received the $12,000 to $13,000 in a Walmart bag that also contained a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter, the Journal reported
Cohen never paid the specialist, John Gauger, the rest of the $50,000 he owed, Gauger told the Journal.
Gauger, whose company is called RedFinch Solutions LLC, is also the chief information officer at Liberty University in Virginia, according to the Journal, which is how he first connected with Cohen in 2012, after a speech Trump gave at the evangelical university run by Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Gauger told the Journal that Cohen promised additional work for the Trump campaign but that work never materialized beyond two phone calls with other campaign officials who opted not to hire the firm.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani told the Journal that Cohen’s seeking of a reimbursement much greater than what he paid Gauger shows that Cohen is “completely untrustworthy” and thief.
How Cohen obtained the reimbursement also shows the level of trust he maintained in Trump’s inner circle, having received the money by only providing a note claiming he spent $50,0o0 for “tech services” for the campaign, according to the Journal. The payment was referenced in prosecutors’ charging documents for Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, other financial crimes, and to lying to Congress about Trump’s business dealings with Russia. The $50,000 payment was mentioned in the charging documents in addition to the $130,000 Cohen received for hush money payments to a porn star who claimed to have slept with Trump.
Though he didn’t do any more work for the campaign, Gauger did other work for Cohen personally, including the creation of the @WomenForCohen twitter account, which was run by a female friend of Grauger and sought to elevate Cohen’s profile as a “sex symbol,” according to the Journal.