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Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump's then-personal lawyer Michael Cohen hired an IT firm, RedFinch Solutions, LLC, to attempt to rig online polls at CNBC and the Drudge Report in 2014 and 2015 in Trump's favor, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Details: Cohen was supposed to pay John Gauger, RedFinch's owner, $50,000 for his services during a meeting at Trump Tower in early 2015, but instead handed him "a blue Walmart bag containing between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and, randomly, a boxing glove that [Cohen] said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter"

  • Gauger told the WSJ that he never got the full $50,000, though Cohen reportedly requested a reimbursement for the complete amount from Trump and The Trump Organization.

The backdrop: Neither of Cohen's schemes in the online polls ended up being particularly successful.

  • Cohen had asked RedFinch to write a script to repeatedly vote for Trump in a 2014 CNBC online poll of the country’s top business leaders. Trump didn't crack the top 100.
  • In 2015, RedFinch was asked to do the same for a Drudge Report poll of potential Republican presidential candidates ahead of the 2016 election. Trump ultimately finished fifth with about 5% of the total.

Another piece of color from the WSJ piece: Cohen also asked Gauger "to create the @WomenForCohen account, still active in 2019, to elevate his profile. The account’s profile says it is run by 'Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented and ready to make a difference!'"

The backdrop: Cohen has since been sentenced in a New York federal court to three years in prison on charges related to other work for Trump, including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.

Go deeper: Top House Democrats warn Trump after Cohen comments

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.