Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen paid a data firm to manipulate online polling data, saying he did it at Trump's direction and for his sole benefit.
A former lawyer for US President Donald Trump says he paid a firm to manipulate online polling data "at the direction of and for the sole benefit of" Trump.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen paid the data firm Redfinch Solutions to manipulate two public opinion polls in favour of Trump before the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen said in a Twitter post that he regretted his loyalty to Trump.
The attempts to influence the polls ultimately proved largely unsuccessful but does shed a light on the tactics of the Trump campaign and Cohen's role within it.
On the campaign trail, Trump frequently referred to his polling numbers to help fuel his candidacy.
Last month Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Trump's 2016 campaign, and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia
The Journal said Cohen commissioned John Gauger, who runs RedFinch Solutions, to write a computer script to repeatedly vote for Trump in a February 2015 Drudge Report poll on potential Republican candidates.
The move came as Trump was preparing to enter the 2016 presidential election race, the newspaper reported.
Trump ranked fifth in the Drudge Report poll with about 24,000 votes, or 5 per cent of the total, according to the Journal.
Cohen also commissioned Gauger to do the same for a 2014 CNBC online poll identifying the country's top business leaders, although Trump was unable to break the top 100 candidates, the Journal reported.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president was unaware of the rigging.
"The president has no knowledge of the polls being rigged," Giuliani said in an interview with Reuters.
RedFinch Solutions did not immediately respond to a request for comment.