The New York Times has put together a lengthy report about the utterly bizarre circumstances surrounding Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen, a former pool boy, and purportedly “compromising photographs.”
The story begins in 2012 when Falwell and his wife enjoyed a stay at the Fontainebleau, a Florida luxury resort known for topless sunbathing and a massive underground nightclub described by one travel guide as “30,000 square feet of unadulterated fun.”
While at the resort, the Falwells struck up a conversation with a 21-year-old man named Giancarlo Granda, who was working as a pool boy at the Fontainebleau. They soon entered into a business relationship with Granda, who at the time was studying finance at Florida International University.
The Falwells subsequently agreed to help Granda purchase an LGBT-friendly youth hostel in Florida that features pamphlets for strip clubs, as well as a sign that reads, “No Soliciting, Fundraising, Politics, Salesmen, Religion.”
According to court records, Falwell said that his family invested a total of $1.8 million, including $800,000 for renovations, to help Granda build up the hostel into a successful business.
Trouble began, however, when Granda’s investment partners claimed that they had been promised an ownership share of the hostel — an offer the Falwells denied ever making.
It’s at this point that the partners sued the Falwells over ownership of the hostel, which is when accusations of “compromising photographs” involving the Falwells began flying around.
“By late 2015, the lawsuit over ownership of the hostel had devolved into a fight over compromising photos, according to several people involved in the case,” the Times reports. “It was understood that between Mr. Granda, the Fernandezes and their lawyers, one or more people were in possession of photographs that could be used as leverage against the Falwells.”
To make things even stranger, this was around the time that Cohen claims he began working with the Falwells in an effort to buy up the purported photos, although the Falwells deny that they ever asked him to do anything of the sort. Additionally, Falwell would provide Cohen’s top client, Donald Trump, with a critical endorsement in the 2016 Republican primary months later.
The Times, however, takes care to note that there is no evidence linking the existence of the photographs to Falwell’s decision to endorse Trump.