New York: US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen has said he paid the head of a small technology company thousands in 2015 to rig online polls at “the direction of and for the sole benefit of” Trump. Cohen was responding on Thursday to a report in The Wall Street Journal he paid John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, between $12,000 and $13,000 for activities related to the President’s campaign, including “trying unsuccessfully to manipulate two online polls in Trump’s favour” and creating a Twitter account called “@WomenForCohen” that “praised (Cohen’s) looks and character, and promoted his appearances and statements boosting” Trump’s candidacy, reports CNN.

In making the claim, Gauger told the Journal he was not fully paid for the work, though the daily said Cohen was reimbursed $50,000 — the amount the two originally agreed on for Gauger’s services — by the Trump Organisation. Gauger, the daily reported, also received a boxing glove “worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter” along with the cash payment. Later on Thursday in a statement to CNN, Cohen said his actions were “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of Donald Trump. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.” Cohen has publicly broken with Trump since cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.He is expected to testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 7 and is prepared to discuss topics related to hush money payments and aspects of the Trump Organisation, including the roles of the President and his children. Meanwhile, a Belarusian model Anastasia Vashukevich, who claimed she had proof of Russian collusion with the Trump election campaign was in custody after police “dragged” her from a transit zone in Moscow’s airport, her lawyer told AFP.