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President Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen reportedly helped evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. destroy "personal" photographs before Falwell Jr. gave Trump a 2016 endorsement, per a taped conversation reviewed by Reuters.

The backdrop: After an unnamed individual obtained the private images and allegedly blackmailed the Falwell family in 2015, Cohen traveled to Florida to meet with an attorney for the person with the photographs. Cohen reportedly threatened that authorities would be called if the demands didn’t stop, the source said.

Details:

  • Cohen's account of the event and his involvement was recorded in a conversation by comedian Tom Arnold on March 25.
  • Per Reuters: "The Falwells wanted to keep 'a bunch of photographs, personal photographs' from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. 'I actually have one of the photos,' he said, without going into specifics. 'It’s terrible.'"
  • Falwell is president of Liberty University — a large Christian university founded by his father, Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.
  • According to Reuters sources, Cohen repeatedly requested that Falwell endorse Trump’s presidential candidacy before the Iowa caucuses in early 2016.
  • A source familiar with Cohen’s thinking told Reuters that Falwell's 2016 endorsement and Cohen's involvement in the photograph problem were "separate issues."

The latest: Falwell tweeted last weekend: “After the best week ever for @realDonaldTrump - no obstruction, no collusion, NYT admits @BarackObama did spy on his campaign, & the economy is soaring. I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup."

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
1 hour ago - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.

Court rejects Trump campaign's appeal in Pennsylvania case

Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday unanimously rejected the Trump campaign's emergency appeal seeking to file a new lawsuit against Pennsylvania's election results, writing in a blistering ruling that the campaign's "claims have no merit."

Why it matters: It's another devastating blow to President Trump's sinking efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pennsylvania, which President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, certified its results last week and is expected to award 20 electoral votes to Biden on Dec. 12.