President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen alleged in his new book that then-Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of Trump in 2016 was linked to Cohen’s role in preventing explicit photos of Falwell’s wife from becoming public.
In a recorded call with comedian Tom Arnold last year, Cohen said the Falwells asked for his help to prevent “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from being revealed to the public. “I actually have one of the photos, it’s terrible,” Cohen said in the recording.
In Cohen’s book, “Disloyal: The Memoir,” he said his experience with Falwell would be a “catch and kill,” a technique used by news outlets to suppress negative stories about high-profile individuals, “but in this case it was just going to be kill.”
“In good time, I would call in this favor, not for me, but for the Boss, at a crucial moment on his journey to the presidency,” Cohen writes in the memoir.
Falwell told Reuters that his endorsement of Trump in 2015 had nothing to do with the suppression of the explicit photographs.
“It was no quid pro quo,” Falwell told the news outlet. “There was no me supporting Trump because of whatever Michael was doing.”
During the 2016 Republican national convention, Falwell called Trump “one of the greatest visionaries of our time” and “America’s blue-collar billionaire.” In recent years, Falwell frequently defended the Trump administration in media interviews and became one of the most high-profile evangelicals backing the president.
Falwell stepped down as the president of Liberty University in August after it was revealed that he and his wife had a years-long sexual relationship with a former pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda. Falwell and his wife had met Granda at a Miami hotel in 2012.
Falwell’s father, preacher and televangelist Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., founded Liberty University in 1971. Falwell Jr. became Liberty University’s president after his father’s death in 2007.
Falwell has previously told CNN that he would receive a $10.5 million severance package from Liberty due to his resignation. Liberty is undertaking an investigation of its operations under Falwell and has instructed its staff to not interact with the school’s ousted president.