Michael Cohen, the president’s former fixer who was recently sentenced to three years in prison, leveled a new allegation Thursday at President Trump by claiming his former boss directed him to rig online polls ahead of the 2016 presidential race.
Cohen tweeted the allegation after the Wall Street Journal published a story saying he paid thousands of dollars to a man named John Gauger of the company RedFinch to try to boost Trump’s standing in two polls. One was a 2014 CNBC online poll of the country’s top business leaders; the other was a 2015 online Drudge Report poll of potential Republican presidential candidates.
“As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS,” Cohen tweeted. “I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
The language is similar to that used by Cohen in previous statements claiming he made hush-money payments during the 2016 campaign to two women who claimed affairs with Trump. Cohen has said he did that at Trump's direction too.
Despite the reported efforts in 2014 and 2015, Trump did not do well in either poll, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump did not make it into the top 100 candidates of top business leaders, and Trump ranked in fifth place, or 5 percent, of the Drudge Report poll. Online polls, unlike scientific ones conducted by pollsters, are notoriously unreliable.
The paper said Cohen agreed to pay Gauger $50,000 for his services, but ended up only paying the vendor no more than $13,000. Still, the Journal reported that Cohen asked for and received a $50,000 reimbursement from Trump over the work.
Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, used that revelation to portray Cohen as a “petty thief.”
Giuliani also told Fox News that Trump knew nothing about Cohen trying to alter the polls, saying, “if he did it, he did it on his own."
According to the report, Cohen also paid Gauger to create a “@WomenForCohen” Twitter account to promote himself. That account, created in 2016, is still active today and describes itself as an account for “Women who love and support Michael Cohen," describing the Cohen as "Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!”
Cohen in December was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to numerous crimes including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings in Russia while cooperating with prosecutors.
Before sentencing, Cohen ripped into his former boss in federal court, telling the judge he felt it was his duty to cover up the president's “dirty deeds.”
Cohen is due to report to prison by March 6.
The new allegation comes just weeks before Cohen is set to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7. Cohen has said he will use that opportunity to “give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired."
Fox News' John Roberts contributed to this report.