Donald Trump’s former fixer and current federal inmate Michael Cohen says he lent his problem-burying skill set to Jerry Falwell Jr. in 2016, helping the Evangelical leader handle a situation in which someone possessed the kind of “personal” photos that would be kept “between husband and wife,” according to a taped recording of Cohen obtained by Reuters.
Falwell reportedly reached out to Cohen in 2015 after someone acquired the pictures and demanded money for them. According to Reuters, Cohen flew to Florida and spoke with the person’s attorney, “telling the lawyer that his client was committing a crime and that law-enforcement authorities would be called if the demands didn’t stop.” A source “familiar with Cohen’s thinking” told Reuters the lawyer soon told Cohen that all the photographs had been destroyed. The report does not explicitly state who is in the pictures.
According to two people familiar with the matter who spoke with Reuters, Cohen was also crucial in the effort to convince Falwell — the president of Liberty University and a prominent Evangelical voice — to endorse Trump in 2016 just before the Iowa caucuses. As the news agency states, it “has no evidence that Falwell’s endorsement of Trump was related to Cohen’s involvement in the photo matter.”
The tape in which Cohen describes his alleged connection to Falwell was recorded surreptitiously by comedian Tom Arnold, who transitioned late in life into a political provocateur. Parts of the recording — including Cohen’s possible disavowal of his guilty plea — were made public on April 24 by theWall Street Journal, but the detail of Cohen’s alleged favor is new to the Reuters report. “I actually have one of the photos,” Cohen reportedly tells Arnold on the tape. “It’s terrible.”