Just hours after it was reported that President Donald Trump’s embattled former attorney, Michael Cohen, had hired an employee from Liberty University to rig online polls, the commander-in-chief is again in hot water over reports that he directed Cohen to lie to Congress about Russian business interests.
Buzzfeed News has reported that President Trump even supported a plan set up by Cohen to visit Russia, meet Putin and set in motion plans for a Moscow-based Trump Tower.
“Make it happen,” the outlet’s sources said Trump told Cohen.
Despite the president insisting in the past that he has had no business dealings with Russia, Buzzfeed’s sources noted that “Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.”
What has Liberty University got to do with it all?
A report published at the Wall Street Journal Thursday suggested that, in 2015, Cohen had personally paid an IT executive named John Gauger to rig online polling numbers for the then presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Gauger is the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC and currently serves as chief information officer at Liberty University. He was hired by the school in August 2012, initially as the Director of Specialized Initiatives.
WSJ noted that Cohen had paid Gauger between $12,000 and $13,000, delivered in a Walmart bag. According to the report, the IT specialist also received a boxing glove “worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter” as part of his payment. Cohen has contested these details.
“All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” he said.
The attorney, who was last month sentenced to three years for lying to Congress, later took to Twitter, noting that everything he did was “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald Trump.”
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 17, 2019
Has Liberty University responded?
While the Virginia-based institution has failed to specifically address the actions of Gauger, it did issue a broad statement on the controversy.
“Liberty University, like many other educational institutions, has permitted its employees for many years to engage in business, consulting and other side work that does not interfere with their employment obligations to the University,” the college noted, as reported by WDBJ-TV.
“Also, like other organizations, Liberty recognizes the strong demand for highly skilled IT professionals creates special challenges in recruiting and retaining talented employees with those skills and experience,” it continued. “The opportunity for Liberty’s IT employees to develop businesses and products is particularly important to attracting and maintaining Liberty’s IT talent.”
Liberty went on to make reference to John Gauger, noting that he “is one example among many outstanding LU employees who have made great contributions in their official roles and also enjoyed success as independent entrepreneurs”
The president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, has been a staunch advocate of Donald Trump since he announced his candidacy for president back in 2015.