Jerry Falwell Jr. asserted that he “never engaged or paid” former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to help deal with a case involving potentially embarrassing photos.
The Liberty University president refuted a report claiming Cohen was asked to intervene in an issue dealing with “racy” photos of him and his wife, telling Fox Radio host Todd Starnes that “no compromising or embarrassing photos” even exist.
“While we have a long-standing friendship with Michael Cohen, we never engaged or paid Cohen to represent us in any legal or other professional capacity, and Cohen did not ever resolve any legal matter on our behalf,” Falwell said on “The Todd Starnes Show.”
“This report is not accurate,” Falwell said. “There are no compromising or embarrassing photos of me.”
According to a Reuters report on Tuesday:
Months before evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.’s game-changing presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters.
Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy “personal” photographs — the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation.
The photos were allegedly destroyed after Cohen’s intervention, Reuters was told.
The conversation the news agency reportedly obtained was between the president’s former attorney, who began serving a three-year prison sentence this week for federal campaign violations and lying to Congress, and comedian Tom Arnold which was recorded on March 25.
The Falwells were allegedly trying to prevent “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold.
“I actually have one of the photos,” he said. “It’s terrible.”
The university president reportedly reached out to Cohen in 2015, the year Trump announced his presidential candidacy, and months before he endorsed the then-GOP candidate. Falwell and Trump already had an established friendship as the New York real estate mogul was previously invited to speak at Liberty University’s Convocation.
According to the Reuters report:
Cohen would later prove successful in another matter involving Falwell, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to issue his endorsement of Trump’s presidential candidacy at a critical moment, they said: just before the Iowa caucuses. Falwell subsequently barnstormed with Trump and vouched for the candidate’s Christian virtues.
The “source familiar with Cohen’s thinking,” Reuters clarified, “insisted the endorsement and the help with the photographs were separate issues.” After it seemed to imply that Falwell might have been pressured into endorsing Trump, Reuters noted that it had “no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter.”
Arnold, who reportedly struck up a friendship with Cohen when the two met last year, spoke about the recorded conversation and shared excerpts on ABC News‘ “The Investigation” on Tuesday.
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Last weekend I flew to New York City to catch up with and thank Michael Cohen. He has a ton of new Trump material to share with congressional investigators. Some of it illegal business dealings. Some of it crazy insane stuff. Michael Cohen is a meticulous note taker and impeccable with his word.
“I want him to know he did a good thing, he came through,” Arnold said on “The Investigation.” “He did make a difference, you know, I don’t know what people think — he genuinely is a good guy, you know, we all make mistakes.”
“It’s the best of all worlds,” Arnold said on why he decided to record, and then release the conversation. “You could blame me if anybody says anything, you say, ‘Tom Arnold recorded me, man. Tom Arnold’s a jerk. He recorded me, I didn’t know it.’ So, that’s the best thing going, you can always blame me. This is the perfect situation.”