In his new book, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen linked Jerry Falwell Jr.’s early Trump endorsement in 2016 to Cohen’s suppression of “personal” pictures of Falwell and his wife, Becki.
According to Reuters, which obtained a copy of “Disloyal: The Memoir,” Cohen said that he “killed” the photos.
“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 wrote. He did not say explicitly what the favor was.
“Like the Bieber favor a few years earlier, this would have a huge impact on the 2016 election, evangelicals, the Supreme Court and the fate of the nation,” Cohen added, per Reuters, referring to a time when he secured Justin Bieber tickets for the Falwells’ daughter. “If Becki Falwell was seen half-naked by the students of Liberty University, let alone evangelicals all over the country, it would be an unmitigated disaster.”
Falwell endorsed Trump before the Iowa caucus in 2016, well before many prominent Republicans were on board. The vote of confidence from such a prominent evangelical was a surprise to many and a huge boost to Trump’s legitimacy. Cohen has said before that he was a main driver behind that endorsement.
Cohen has previously denied any link between the photos and Falwell’s endorsement: “There is absolutely no connection between the photos and my personal request to the Falwells to assist the Trump campaign,” he told CNN. But the timing has long seemed suspicious, not least because a former spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — a primary competitor who announced his run at Falwell’s Liberty University and was particularly hard hit by the shift of evangelicals to Trump — said that Falwell had previously promised him he wouldn’t endorse in the primary.
Falwell fell from his perch as president of Liberty late last month after salacious details of his triangular sex life surfaced. Giancarlo Granda, a former business partner of the Falwells, told Reuters that he had a years-long affair with Becki Falwell including liaisons where Jerry Falwell watched the two have sex. Falwell confirmed that Granda and his wife had had the affair, and said that Granda was using “false claims” about it to blackmail the couple.
Falwell’s prospects were already in decline by that point though. He’d been on “indefinite leave” since August 7, after posting pictures on his Instagram account of himself and a woman with their pants unzipped.
Cohen, meanwhile, has been serving out the rest of a three-year prison sentence for, among other things, campaign finance violations and tax fraud, from his home.