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Trump Reimbursed Cohen for $50K, and the Story Is Strange

'WSJ' reports Cohen wanted tech firm to manipulate polls, didn't pay up
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2019 8:21 AM CST
In this April 11, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former attorney, walks along a sidewalk in New York. Cohen will testify publicly before Congress in February 2019.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(Newser) – When federal prosecutors charged Michael Cohen with campaign-finance violations in August, documents mentioned the $130,000 reimbursement he received for a hush-money payment made to Stormy Daniels—and tacked on mention of another $50,000 reimbursement made at the same time for "tech services." The Wall Street Journal reports it now has the story behind that second figure. Per its reporting, Trump's former lawyer engaged the tech firm RedFinch Solutions LLC to do two things, the details of which were apparently never conveyed to the Trump Organization: try to sway two online polls in Donald Trump's favor (the effort was unsuccessful) and start and run a praise-filled Twitter account called @WomenForCohen that described him as a "pit bull" and "sex symbol." He was to pay RedFinch owner John Gauger $50,000 for the work.

Gauger, who also serves as CIO at Virginia's Liberty University, claims Cohen didn't fork over that amount. But Cohen was apparently paid it by the Trump Organization, which sources say did not ask for specifics about the services rendered, "demonstrat[ing] the level of trust the lawyer once had within the Trump Organization." In the Journal's telling, Gauger showed up at Trump Tower in early 2015 and was given, by Cohen, a bag with at most $13,000 in it, along with a boxing glove that allegedly belonged to a Brazilian MMA fighter. Cohen, without elaboration, told the Journal all payments were made by check. As for the polls, Gauger was reportedly tasked with writing a computer script that would continually vote for Trump in a 2014 CNBC poll of America's business leaders (Trump didn't make the top 100) and a 2015 Drudge Report poll of top 2016 GOP candidates (Trump ended up fifth).

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