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.


  • 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 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 31,092,895 — Total deaths: 961,301— Total recoveries: 21,274,210Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 6,812,470 — Total deaths: 199,517 — Total recoveries: 2,590,671 — Total tests: 95,108,559Map.
  3. Health: CDC updates guidances to say coronavirus can be spread through the air Nursing homes are evicting unwanted patients.
  4. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right."
  5. Education: College students give failing grade on return to campus.
  6. Business: Unemployment concerns are growing.
  7. World: "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.
Ben Geman, author of Generate
49 mins ago - Energy & Environment

The climate stakes of the Supreme Court fight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death and the battle over her vacant Supreme Court seat have real implications for energy and climate policy.

Why it matters: If President Trump replaces her, the court will likely become more skeptical of regulations that claim expansive federal power to regulate carbon under existing law, and perhaps new climate statutes as well.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The tech war between the U.S. and China escalates

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic tension between the U.S. and China continues to escalate but is shifting in focus — away from the tit-for-tat trade war and toward a more direct confrontation over the future of technology at the heart of the conflict between the world's two largest economies.

Why it matters: The battle between the U.S. and China was always about tech supremacy and the direct confrontation could result in an accelerated splintering of global supply chains and a significant reduction of international commerce.