President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and longtime fixer Michael Cohen on Thursday said he tried to rig online polls — including one conducted by CNBC — "at the direction and for the sole benefit of" Trump when he was thinking about making a run for the White House.
"I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it," Cohen said in a tweet copping to the electronic chicanery to have Trump's name rank higher in online polls than it otherwise would have.
Cohen's admission came shortly after The Wall Street Journal published a story detailing how he retained an information technology company to manipulate a 2014 CNBC online poll identifying the nation's top 100 business leaders to bolster Trump's chances of making that list.
That effort failed. And Trump himself fumed in 2014 on Twitter about his absence from CNBC's poll results.
A second similar effort related to rig a Drudge Report poll of potential Republican candidates worked, according to the Journal. Trump placed fifth in that poll, conducted in February 2015, before he announced his candidacy for the White House.
The Journal reported that a man named John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions and chief information officer of Liberty University in Virginia, was given more than $12,000 by Cohen in 2015 for having helped rig online polls to boost Trump's ranking in them. The Journal's article cites Gauger as a source for its report.
CNBC in an article last August noted that Cohen in January 2017 reported a $50,000 expense to the Trump Organization for a payment Cohen made in 2016 to help Trump. The payment was for work that prosecutors said Cohen "solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign."
Gauger was quoted by the Journal on Thursday as saying that he was never paid more than $13,000 by Cohen despite being owed more for his work. But Cohen still asked for and received "a $50,000 reimbursement from Mr. Trump and his company for the work by RedFinch," the Journal reported, citing government documents and a person familiar with the matter.