In the months prior to endorsing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a rather sticky personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation, Reuters reports.
In his discussion with Cohen, Falwell, the president of Liberty University, said someone came to own what Cohen described as racy personal photographs — the kind of photos that would usually be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation.
One person who knows how Cohen thinks said the owner of the photos destroyed them after Cohen intervened for Falwell.
The Falwells are thus far remaining mum on the subject.
Cohen began a three-year prison sentence earlier this week for federal campaign violations and lying to Congress, but he recounts the story of the racy photographs on the tape, which was recorded — rather surprisingly and surreptitiously — by comedian Tom Arnold on March 25. In some portions of the tape Cohen seems to disavow his guilty plea. That was revealed to The Wall Street Journal on April 24.
Apparently the Falwells requested Cohen’s help in 2015, the aforementioned source said. Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer and he worked for the Trump Organization. Cohen was also a key player in encouraging Falwell Jr. to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign.
And for his part, Falwell Jr. promoted Trump’s “Christian values.”
On the tape, Cohen can be heard telling Arnold that the Falwells wanted to keep “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public.
“I actually have one of the photos,” Cohen said. “It’s terrible.”
Reuters reports it has no evidence to suggest Falwell’s endorsement was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo controversy, but the unnamed source insists the endorsement and the photos were two separate incidents.