According to an exclusive report from Reuters, Trump’s former lawyer, fixer, and partner in actual crime Michael Cohen once helped Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. with a problem involving “racy” photographs. Because everything is insane now, the report is based in part on a secretly recorded conversation between Cohen and former Celebrity Apprentice contestant Tom Arnold that Arnold made.
Tom Arnold secretly taping Michael Cohen discussing a cover up involving Jerry Falwell Jr., racy photos to help Donald Trump win the presidency is truly the purest expression of our Mad Libs nightmare.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) May 7, 2019
Cohen, who’s been chummy with Falwell since 2012, was also instrumental in securing the Liberty University president’s endorsement for Trump ahead of the Iowa caucuses in 2016. Before that, Falwell asked Cohen for his help with the sensitive issue—keeping “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from leaking.
According to Reuters, Cohen described the photos as “racy” and the kind of things you would want to keep “between husband and wife.”
“I actually have one of the photos,” Cohen told Arnold in the recorded conversation, “It’s terrible.”
Cohen stepped in on the Falwells’ behalf and ensured the person possessing the photos destroyed them, Reuters says a “source familiar with Cohen’s thinking” told them.
Falwell was an early and very vocal supporter of Trump who gave him much-needed Evangelical cover during the Access Hollywood scandal. Falwell went on television to denounce the leak of the tape, in which Trump confesses to sexual assault, as a “conspiracy” of the Republican establishment.
After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump – no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup
— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) May 5, 2019
“I think this whole videotape thing was planned, I think it was timed, I think it might have even been a conspiracy among the establishment Republicans who’ve known about it for weeks and who tried to time it to do the maximum damage to Donald Trump,” Falwell said at the time. “We’re all sinners, every one of us. We’ve all done things we wish we hadn’t.”
I guess we now know why the hostage stare on Jerry here. pic.twitter.com/LL8ciuyuJM
— Schooley (@Rschooley) May 7, 2019
While it might look pretty damning that the notoriously sleazy Cohen locked in Falwell’s support at a crucial time for the Trump campaign after helping the endorser out of a very private jam, Reuters says they don’t have evidence the two are linked. According to Reuters, “The source familiar with Cohen’s thinking insisted the endorsement and the help with the photographs were separate issues.”
(If you’re speculating that the “source familiar with Cohen’s thinking” might be Michael Cohen himself, uh, same.)
Speaking of speculation, there’s another, possibly related part of this story that was uncovered a year ago by Buzzfeed. In May of 2018 Buzzfeed reported the Falwell’s had been taken to court by a father and son alleging they had been squeezed out of a Miami business venture by the couple and a young man named Giancarlo Granda.
The suit alleges Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife struck up a “friendly relationship” with Granda—then a 21-year-old poolboy at a Miami resort—shuttled him around in their private jet and financially supported the business venture with him. (The Falwells told Buzzfeed they flew Granda on their jet only once and merely wanted to help the young man start a business.)
It would be wildly irresponsible to speculate that Falwell took pics of the pool boy doing his wife, with their consent, because he has a cuckold fetish. Wildly, wildly irresponsible.
— Gary Legum (@GaryLegum) May 7, 2019
While Cohen spared us the details of what’s in the photos and there’s no direct evidence these two stories are linked, some reporters on Twitter are connecting the dots.
If true, it would probably come as a shock to Liberty University’s Board of Trustees that their Trump-endorsing president might have salacious hidden secrets that don’t comport with the largest Christian school’s values. The Liberty University community was strained by Falwell’s decision to so vocally back Trump in 2016. Then again, the board also forced out one longtime member who publicly criticized Falwell for the decision.