Jerry Falwell Jr's "pool boy": Let me tell you what's really going on here; Update: I haven't resigned, says Falwell

All I really want to know about this story is: What did Michael Cohen and/or Trump know, and when did they know it? Did this actually play a (small) part in how Trump came to be the GOP nominee?


Remember, according to an NYT story published last year, Ted Cruz’s campaign had reason to believe Falwell would endorse their guy for president in 2016. Cruz was looking to lock down the evangelical vote before the primaries, expecting that Christians would balk at Trump’s checkered past. (How young we all were then.) Having the support of the president of Liberty University, the son of a famous minister, would serve as a benediction. But Falwell shocked the campaign by endorsing Trump instead, one of the earliest inklings that evangelical voters would be more receptive to a louche billionaire from Manhattan than anyone expected.

Did Falwell have a timely epiphany about Trump or did the president and his loyal lackey Cohen employ tactics they honed with the National Enquirer to “influence” his endorsement? From the Times:

“There’s a bunch of photographs, personal photographs, that somehow the guy ended up getting — whether it was off of Jerry’s phone or somehow maybe it got AirDropped or whatever the hell the whole thing was,” Mr. Cohen told Mr. Arnold in the recording, which Mr. Arnold shared with The Times. Mr. Cohen never identified “the guy.”

“These are photos between husband and wife,” Mr. Cohen added, joking that “the evangelicals are kinkier than Tom Arnold.” He explained, “I was going to pay him, and I was going to get the negatives and do an agreement where they turn over all the technology that has the photographs or anything like that, any copies.”

But the payoff “never happened,” he said, “and the guy just either deleted them on his own or what have you.”


That incident came early in 2016, a few months before Falwell endorsed Trump, according to Reuters. There’s no evidence (yet) that Cohen used what he knew as leverage to obtain Falwell’s endorsement but there’s surely no reason to think he was above it. Imagine putting Michael Cohen, of all people, in a situation where he could easily blackmail you.

Anyway, since then the rumors have swirled: What did Cohen see? What sort of dirt is floating around on Falwell that might require a fixer’s intervention? Reports have been published over the past few years about the unusual relationship between him, his wife, and a 20-year-old pool boy whom they befriended during a visit to a Miami hotel in 2012. Those stories have been long on innuendo but short on specifics — until last night, when Falwell finally broke the ice himself with a statement to the Washington Examiner. His wife had had a short fling with the pool boy years ago, he claimed, and they’ve been fending off his extortion attempts ever since.

Why would he suddenly up and reveal a skeleton in the family closet which he’d succeeded in keeping a secret for so long? For only one possible reason: The pool boy was about to go public and this was Falwell’s way of getting ahead of the story, a “limited hangout” aimed at spinning what happened in the most sympathetic possible light. “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved — it was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about,” Falwell’s statement to the Examiner read. But in the end it was a tale of redemption. “Thankfully, our love has never been stronger. Becki and I forgave each other, because while her indiscretion may have been more obvious and apparent, I realized that there were important smaller things I needed to do better too,” it went on. Mrs. Falwell had briefly succumbed to temptation, her husband had forgiven her, and now they were being preyed upon. Why, they’re the victims in all this.


That’s not what happened, though, said “pool boy” Giancarlo Granda to Reuters. Falwell was involved. He was, allegedly, a very willing cuck. “Becki and I developed an intimate relationship and Jerry enjoyed watching from the corner of the room,” Granda claimed. And it wasn’t a brief fling; it went on for years, he says, with multiple trysts each year. Why should anyone believe him? Well, there’s this audio from just two years ago in which all three of them are on a call together and a woman, presumably Mrs. Falwell, talks about feeling hurt when Granda tells her he’s been hooking up with people:

There’s also this, from just last year:

The material Granda showed Reuters includes screenshots from what Granda said was a FaceTime conversation he had with the Falwells in 2019. During that call, Granda said, Becki was naked as the two discussed their relationship while Jerry peeked from behind a door. Reuters was able to verify Granda’s description of the screenshots.

If there was a brief affair in 2012 which Falwell wasn’t involved in, how does he explain that apparently verified screenshot seven full years later?

Something happened earlier this year to sour the relationship because, says Reuters, by June Granda and Falwell were sending each other hostile messages involving claims of extortion and going “the kamikaze route.” Weirdly, that occurred *before* the mini-scandal a few weeks back that forced Falwell to take a leave of absence from Liberty, after he posted a photo of himself with his pants unbuttoned and his arm around his wife’s assistant. That caused an uproar because Liberty is strict about morals among its students, requiring modest dress along with more traditional prohibitions like curfews and bans on premarital sex.


If there really was an extortion attempt here, maybe Falwell’s mini-scandal explains why the scandal involving Granda is coming to a head now. Falwell’s job is already hanging by a thread. A desperate man might be willing to pay more for silence.

And imagine what might yet emerge about how long the powers that be at Liberty have known that their president not only wasn’t following the moral code he laid down for students, he was flouting it in unusually sordid ways. It’s one thing for someone who preaches Christian morals to have an occasional lapse and seek forgiveness; people aren’t perfect, which is why they seek moral instruction through faith. But if Granda’s telling the truth, especially about how long this went on, it wasn’t a “lapse.” It was a lifestyle. The president of the country’s most prominent evangelical university, charged with enforcing a code of virtue against thousands of young adults, was in largely open rebellion against that code privately for many years. Does Falwell believe at all in the standards to which Liberty holds its students or is it all a grift for him?

The craziest part is that the statement he gave to the Examiner attempts to blame the entire mess on his wife. Whether he and Becki Falwell agreed on that as a strategy or if he wrote it without her approval, in a frantic attempt to save his job by claiming that his wife was the only one who had sinned, only they know. It reeks either way. And it’s bizarre that Falwell would insist that he wasn’t involved, and that the affair was long over, when he had every reason to assume that Granda had documentary evidence to contradict that. If your wife is Facetiming naked with a guy, and you and she happen to be prominent people, odds are very high in the age of smartphones that he has a record of it somewhere. “Reckless” doesn’t begin to describe what happened here if Granda’s telling the truth.


Literally I was writing this sentence — “It seems a fait accompli that he’ll be dismissed now” — when news broke that Falwell has resigned from Liberty. Now we get to sit back and find out who, if anyone, at the school knew what and when, and what was done to keep that quiet. How many trustees tacitly agreed with Falwell that the school’s moral code applied only to the plebes? Exit quotation from a Politico piece published last year: “At Liberty, Falwell is ‘very, very vocal’ about his ‘sex life,’ in the words of one Liberty official—a characterization multiple current and former university officials and employees interviewed for this story support.”

Update: I’m glad to hear this. It shouldn’t be so easy for Liberty to rid itself of its Falwell problem with a quick, clean resignation. Let him fight it and make a spectacle of things for awhile.

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