Jerry Falwell Jr only gave crucial endorsement to Donald Trump after being blackmailed with ‘racy personal pictures’, fixer claims
Donald Trump’s personal fixer Michael Cohen has suggested a crucial endorsement from disgraced evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr was given as a “favour” in return for hushing up a sex scandal.
Falwell was ousted from his powerful role at Liberty University last month after former pool boy Giancarlo Granda spoke out about a years-long sexual relationship with the evangelist and his wife, Becki Falwell.
Rumbling of the story have circulated for some time, with a secret recording surfacing in 2019 of Michael Cohen, Trump’s long-time fixer, boasting about suppressing compromising photos that would embarrass the Falwells.
In his tell-all memoir released this week, Cohen gave a fresh account of events — claiming his help in suppressing “softcore MILF” photos of Becki Falwell posing nude on top of a tractor led directly to Falwell’s endorsement of Trump during the 2016 election.
Cohen described his involvement as a “catch-and-kill operation” which would ultimately “have a huge impact on the 2016 election, evangelicals, the Supreme Court and the fate of the nation”.
He recalled getting a call from Falwell, who allegedly explained that he and his wife had “become friendly” with a “pool boy” at a Miami hotel, but the relationship had soured.
Cohen wrote: “The kid had filed a lawsuit, Jerry said, but that wasn’t why he’d called me, as I knew. I wasn’t the lawyer you called to help with litigation; I was the lawyer you called when you had a problem that needed to be solved — or made to go away.
“By this time, I knew it had to be serious. The simple act of calling me to ask a favour was in itself like using up the favour, because he knew that if he asked me to do something for him I would move heaven and earth to help.”
He added: “Jerry continued in a sheepish voice that somehow the pool boy had come into possession of photographs he’d taken on his phone.
“He said that he and his wife Becki had purchased a new tractor for their farm and Mrs Falwell had started to pose for portraits as she climbed on to the hood of the tractor.
“One thing lead to another, Jerry said, now speaking like a man who knows he did something stupid that he regrets but he had to just own up to it and get it out.
“Becki had started to pose for photos with her top open a little bit, and then a lot, and then the top came off, then the bra, and soon she was vamping like a softcore MILF. ”
According to Cohen, Falwell explained that the pool boy “was now threatening to shop the photographs to publications as a way to pressure the Falwells to settle the lawsuit on favourable terms”.
Cohen said he was able to retrieve the photos after threatening to report the pool boy to the FBI for extortion.
Noting another previous favour for the Falwell family, he added: “There it was: my second chit with the Falwells. In good time, I would call in this favour, not for me, but for the boss [Trump], at a crucial moment on his journey to the presidency.”
Falwell shocked commentators in January 2016 when he became the first major evangelical leader to endorse Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
The endorsement — considered key to winning round the conservative Christian supporters who ultimately helped deliver Trump the presidency — was particularly surprising given Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz had launched his own presidential bid alongside Falwell in a speech at Liberty University.
Former Liberty University boss denies key Trump endorsement was a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement.
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Speaking to Reuters, Falwell appeared to admit Cohen had helped him suppress the release of explicit photos, suggesting that “someone stole some pictures I took of my wife in the back yard, topless”.
However, he strongly denied any connection between the incident and his endorsement of Trump. He said: “It was no quid pro quo. There was no me supporting Trump because of whatever Michael was doing.”
Falwell said he had endorsed Trump after encouragement from Cohen because he “believed that a businessman needed to run this country.”
According to Reuters, towards the end of the phone interview Becki Falwell could be heard telling her husband: “Hang up the goddamn phone. Hang up the phone, Jerry!”
The Trump administration has also denied the claims.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer, who lied to Congress. He has lost all credibility, and it’s unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies.”