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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."

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Axios' Joann Muller and United CEO Scott Kirby. Photo: Axios

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Why it matters: Misery for global aviation is likely to continue and hold back a broader economic recovery if nothing changes, especially with new restrictions on international border crossings. U.S. airlines carried about 60% fewer passengers in 2020 compared with 2019.

The risks and rewards of charging state-backed hackers

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Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities.

Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials.

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Scoop: Netanyahu asked Biden to keep Trump's sanctions on International Criminal Court

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Photo: Bas Czerwinski/ANP/AFP via Getty

Netanyahu asked Biden in their first phone call last week to keep sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in place, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli officials are concerned that removing the sanctions would hamper Israel's efforts to stop a potential war crimes investigation into Israel, and that the court's prosecutor could see it as a signal that the U.S. isn't firmly opposed to that investigation.