Reuters reported exclusively on Tuesday that evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. asked President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to help him keep racy "personal photographs" from becoming public.
That's according a recording reviewed by Reuters of a conversation between Cohen and comedian Tom Arnold, in which Cohen said the photos were the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife," adding “I actually have one of the photos.
It’s terrible.” A source told Reuters that the person who possessed the photos demanded money but destroyed them after Cohen intervened.
The Falwells, through a lawyer, declined to comment.
Falwell enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015, according to the source close to Cohen, the year Trump announced his presidential candidacy.
A few months later, Falwell endorsed Trump, a game-changing moment for his 2016 campaign.
Two people familiar with the matter told Reuters that Cohen helped persuade Falwell -- the president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities -- to issue the endorsement just before the Iowa caucuses.
Falwell later barnstormed with Trump and vouched for his Christian virtues.
Reuters has no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter.
One source insisted to Reuters that the endorsement and the help with the photographs were separate issues.
However, Falwell’s endorsement of Trump did surprise some students and staff at Liberty University, where fellow Republican presidential candidate and major Trump rival Ted Cruz had chosen to launch his campaign the previous year.
Falwell’s support for Trump has not wavered.
This past weekend, Falwell tweeted that “Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term” to make up for the two years of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election."