Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and the son of the late evangelical leader of the same name, is such a staunch supporter of President Trump that he made news this week for proposing that the president have his term extended by two years to make up for the time spent on the Mueller report. Trump, naturally, retweeted Falwell’s proposal.
A new report, meanwhile, sheds some light on an episode that preceded Falwell becoming a Trump backer — and not in a way that’s very flattering to Mr. Falwell.
Reuters reported Tuesday that Falwell approached Michael Cohen, then Trump’s attorney, in 2015 with a request: Someone had come into possession of photographs of a “personal” nature involving Falwell, and was demanding money. Falwell asked for Cohen’s help in destroying the photographs, and after Cohen “intervened,” per the report, the person with the photos destroyed them.
Cohen has testified before Congress that he had arranged hush money payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with President Trump.
The president’s former lawyer, who reported to federal prison this week, discussed the matters in a phone call recorded by comedian Tom Arnold last month, which Reuters obtained. Cohen also told Arnold that he had possession of one of the photos, and that “it’s terrible.”
Not long after the episode with the photos, Falwell agreed to endorse Trump for president, a crucial endorsement at a time during the Republican primaries when there were doubts that conservative Christians would support the eventual GOP nominee. Falwell has remained a vocal Trump supporter ever since.
The Reuters report stated that the episode involving the photographs was not directly connected to Falwell’s endorsement of Trump. It does not state who it was that had the Falwell photographs, or what it was Cohen did to intervene in order to get the person to destroy them.
Falwell made the news late last year when it was reported, per BuzzFeed, that Falwell and his wife, in 2012, had met and befriended a 21-year-old pool boy at a Florida hotel named Giancarlo Granda. The Falwells ended up backing a business venture of Granda’s, a chain of youth hostels, to the tune of millions of dollars, leading to a lawsuit from additional business partners claiming they were cut out of the venture.
Despite a tweet that went viral in December that made certain implications, per The Inquisitr, there’s been no reporting indicating anything of a sexual nature between the Falwells and the pool boy. And despite various inferences made on social media, there have not been any reports that the pool boy story has anything to do with the Cohen blackmail story.
However, as Philip Bump of The Washington Post noticed on Twitter Tuesday, both the BuzzFeed story about the pool boy and the Reuters story about the blackmail attempt were written by the same reporter, Aram Roston.