In early 2015, a man who runs a small technology company showed up at Trump Tower to collect $50,000 for having helped Michael Cohen, then Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, try to rig online polls in his boss’s favor before the presidential campaign.
In his Trump Organization office, Mr. Cohen surprised the man, John Gauger, by giving him a blue Walmart bag containing between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and, randomly, a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter, Mr. Gauger said.
Mr. Cohen disputed that he handed over a bag of cash. “All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” he said, offering no further comment on his ties to the consultant.
Mr. Gauger owns RedFinch Solutions LLC and is chief information officer at Liberty University in Virginia, where Jerry Falwell Jr., an evangelical leader and fervent Trump supporter, is president.
Mr. Gauger said he never got the rest of what he claimed he was owed. But Mr. Cohen in early 2017 still asked for—and received—a $50,000 reimbursement from Mr. Trump and his company for the work by RedFinch, according to a government document and a person familiar with the matter. The reimbursement—made on the sole basis of a handwritten note from Mr. Cohen and paid largely out of Mr. Trump’s personal account—demonstrates the level of trust the lawyer once had within the Trump Organization, whose officials arranged the repayment.
The Trump Organization declined to comment. Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, said Mr. Cohen’s being reimbursed more money than he paid RedFinch showed the former Trump lawyer to be a thief. “If one thing has been established, it’s that Michael Cohen is completely untrustworthy,” he said.
The reimbursement was mentioned by federal prosecutors when they charged Mr. Cohen in August with eight felonies, including campaign-finance violations for arranging hush-money payments to an adult-film star and a Playboy model who allege Mr. Trump had extramarital sexual encounters with them.
Prosecutors wrote in a charging document that when Mr. Cohen asked Trump Organization executives for a $130,000 reimbursement for a hush payment he made to Stephanie Clifford, the porn actress known as Stormy Daniels, he also scrawled a handwritten note asking for $50,000 he said he spent on “tech services” to aid Mr. Trump’s campaign. Prosecutors didn’t name the company providing those services, but people familiar with the matter say it was RedFinch. [Continue reading…]