Michael Cohen exits Federal Court
Michael Cohen exits Federal Court

NEW YORK - President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted Thursday that he paid a man in 2015 to rig online opinion polls to favor Trump as he began running for the presidency.

Cohen confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that in early 2015 he paid the head of a small technology firm, John Gauger, to write computer script that would place multiple votes for Trump in an online poll of news broadcaster CNBC.

They repeated the effort in an online poll of website Drudge Report, which is popular with conservatives.

Cohen, who also paid Gauger to create a social media account to promote himself, confirmed the main elements of the Journal story.

"What I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it," he wrote on Twitter.

Cohen, who was the real estate billionaire's right-hand-man and fixer at the Trump Organization in New York at the time, pleaded guilty last year to charges that he violated campaign finance laws by arranging hush payments ahead of the 2016 election to women who claimed credibly to have had extramarital affairs with Trump.

Cohen implicated Trump in that crime, saying he directed the payments.

The New York lawyer, 52, was sentenced to three months in jail for the campaign finance violation and other charges.

But his incarceration has been delayed while he provides support to ongoing investigations into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia and Trump's finances.

He is scheduled to testify to the newly Democratic-controlled House Oversight Committee on February 7 on his work for Trump.

The Journal report said Gauger, who is chief information officer at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia, was paid over $12,000 in cash for the job, allegedly less than the $50,000 he was promised.

Cohen disputed that, insisting that Gauger was paid by check.