In one of my many lives, I made some of my living writing database software. My most successful program was one that did ticketing and seating for large political dinners and events.
I stopped doing that kind of work because Microsoft kept changing the underlying code and I got tired of trying to learn a new language. So, if someone needed that kind of work I would send them to someone else.
That brings us to Michael Cohen – Trump’s Fixer.
According to a Wall Street Journal story, Cohen hired a guy – not me – to “rig online polls in his boss’s favor before the presidential campaign.” The two polls: One conducted for CNBC and the other for Matt Drudge’s website, cost Trump $50,000.
The guy who was hired said he never received the full amount. The WSJ says what he was paid – about $12,000 – was given to him at Trump Tower as cash in a Walmart bag.
The only part of this that Cohen disputes is that business about paying in cash. It was all done by check, says Cohen, out of Trump’s private account.
Cohen, the soul of contrition these days, wrote in a Tweet, “As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, 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.”
Yeah. Well. . .
The tale gets a little more twisted when the Journal says Michael Cohen drew the entire $50,000 but only paid out between $12,000 and $13,000 to the database guy.
The question then becomes: Wither the other 38 K?
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current lawyer and fixer said for the article, “If one thing has been established, it’s that Michael Cohen is completely untrustworthy.”
Mr. Pot? Meet Mr. Kettle.
The guy who got stiffed for that $38,000, John Gauger, runs a company called RedfinchSolutions.com and is affiliated with Liberty University – yes that Liberty University. A check of RedFinch’s website earlier today shows it was still up and running except for the tab labeled: “Team.” Clicking on that did nothing.
Here, according to the WSJ was the scam:
In January 2014, Mr. Cohen asked Mr. Gauger to help Mr. Trump score well in a CNBC online poll to identify the country’s top business leaders by writing a computer script to repeatedly vote for him. Mr. Gauger was unable to get Mr. Trump into the top 100 candidates.
In February 2015, as Mr. Trump prepared to enter the presidential race, Mr. Cohen asked him to do the same for a Drudge Report poll of potential Republican candidates, Mr. Gauger said. Mr. Trump ranked fifth, with about 24,000 votes, or 5% of the total.
That CNBC poll was part of the network’s 25th anniversary activities and asked for people to vote for “those who have had the most profound impact on business and finance since 1989, the year CNBC came into existence.”
I was involved with T. Boone Pickens and The Pickens Plan back in those days and, while we weren’t smart enough to hire a guy to cheat on Boone’s behalf, we knew there was something fishy when Boone didn’t make the top 93 people mentioned. As I remember it, CNBC’s said that Boone’s most “profound impact” had occurred before 1989. For instance, Boone’s attempt to take over Gulf Oil occurred in the time period around 1983.
Now, it seems clear to me that CNBC might have known at the time that at least some entities – including Donald Trump – were involved in attempting to manipulate the contest.
The final piece of weirdness surrounding Michael Cohen and John Gauger was a request by Cohen to establish a Twitter account, @WomenForCohen. Again, as of this writing that Twitter account still exists. In the profile section it says this:
“Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!”
I think that’s the piece that’s going to get under @RealDonaldTrump’s skin the most; that Cohen was using Trump’s money to establish a separate following.
With all of the manipulation, Trump didn’t do very well in either the CNBC or Drudge Report poll.
Maybe I ought to dust off that old Ashton-Tate software and get back into the business.
I’ll supply the Walmart bag.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Wall Street Journal (subscription) and to the CNBC poll.