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Jerry Falwell Jr. had been president since 2007 of Liberty University, which was founded by his father, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell. Liberty University, with more than 100,000 students enrolled, is one of the largest evangelical Christian universities in the world. It has a dress code that advises “cleanliness, neatness, appropriateness, and modesty are important as guiding factors. Students are expected to dress modestly at all times.”

His work to shore up Liberty's finances after taking over as president in 2007. But as the younger Falwell's propensity toward divisive public behavior grew — and particularly after his endorsement of Trump in early 2016 — dissatisfaction built up with what some critics saw as a shift toward being conservative first and Christian second.

Falwell, an early and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, began a leave of absence from the university on 07 August 2020 after an uproar sparked by a photo he posted on social media showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and arm high around the waist of his wife's pregnant assistant. Critics of the photo said it was evidence of hypocritical behavior from the leader of a university where students must follow a strict code of conduct that includes modest dress and a ban on alcohol consumption and premarital sex.

Jerry Falwell Jr. issued a statement to The Washington Examiner 23 August 2020 publicly disclosing that his wife had an extramarital affair and saying the man involved had been threatening to reveal the relationship "to deliberately embarrass my wife, family, and Liberty University unless we agreed to pay him substantial monies." The statement said "Over the course of the last few months this person's behavior has reached a level that we have decided the only way to stop this predatory behavior is to go public". Reuters reported that Falwell knew of his wife's affair and participated in some of the liaisons as a voyeur. The news agency based the information on an interview with Giancarlo Granda, whom they identified as the man involved in the affair.

Months before evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr.’s game-changing presidential endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016, Falwell asked Trump fixer Michael Cohen for a personal favor, Cohen said in a recorded conversation reviewed by Reuters, and reportedd 07 May 2012. Falwell said someone had come into possession of what Cohen described as racy “personal” photographs — the sort that would typically be kept “between husband and wife,” Cohen said in the taped conversation. The Falwells enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to issue his endorsement of Trump’s presidential candidacy at a critical moment, they said: just before the Iowa caucuses. Falwell subsequently barnstormed with Trump and vouched for the candidate’s Christian virtues.

Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed the outgoing US administration of attempting to undercut President-elect Donald Trump by spreading erroneous information. At a Moscow news conference 17 January 2017, Putin said last week's release of an unverified dossier containing salacious allegations about Trump was part of an effort by US President Barack Obama's administration to "undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect" in spite of Trump's "convincing" presidential win.

Putin said "... concerning the allegation that Trump arrived in Moscow and the first thing he did was meet with Moscow prostitutes. First, he is an adult and, second, he has for many years sponsored beauty contests and had the chance to meet the world's most beautiful women. Why would he run to a hotel to meet up with our girls of limited social responsibility? Although they are, of course, the best in the world. But I doubt that Trump fell for it."

An unverified 35-page report first reported by CNN and then published by BuzzFeed on 11 January 2017 alleged that Russia gathered intelligence on Trump and contained unverified charges, including details about Trump's sexual and financial activities in Russia, as well as claims that Trump officials met with Russians during his presidential campaign. The most appalling part of the dossier was the claim that Donald Trump has “personal obsessions and sexual perversion,” including graphic sex acts, and a report that the president-elect once had Russian prostitutes urinate on each other in a hotel bed that the Obamas previously shared.

Trump took to Twitter to deny the claims. He branded the reports "fake news" and likened them to what happened in "Nazi Germany." "Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to 'leak' into the public," Trump wrote in a series of tweets. Trump called BuzzFeed a 'failing pile of garbage' over the report that Moscow had been blackmailing him over past sex adventures in Russia. He also refused to answer a question from CNN, another outlet that published the report. “Be quiet. I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” Trump told CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

Moscow said documents alleging that Russia has compromising information on Donald Trump are a fabrication and a “total bluff.” Russia has never gathered information of this kind on either the US president-elect, or his former rival, Hillary Clinton. “The Kremlin has no compromising information on Trump. This report does not correspond to reality and is nothing but an absolute fiction,” the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.

Clifford G. Gaddy, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote: " ... nothing in the Panama Papers reveals anything new about Putin. It is in fact far less of a story than has been alleged for a long time.... The cui bono principle connects profits with motives, asking who stands to gain from a certain action. If it’s the Russians who win, isn’t it possible that they are somehow behind at least part of this story? ... it is most likely that such an operation would be run out of an agency called the Russian Financial Monitoring Service (RFM). RFM is Putin’s personal financial intelligence unit—he created it and it answers only to him. It is completely legitimate and is widely recognized as the most powerful such agency in the world, with a monopoly on information about money laundering, offshore centers, and related issues...

"... it’s curious that the Panama Papers mention no Americans.... it is a weapon for blackmail. For information to be effective as a blackmail weapon, it must be kept secret.... the Panama Papers operation ... is a message directed at the Americans and other Western political leaders who could be mentioned but are not. ... the individuals mentioned in the documents are not the targets. The ones who are not mentioned are the targets .... blackmailing the real targets in the United States and elsewhere (individuals not in the current leak), the Russian puppet masters get “kontrol” and influence."

The Sun reported 28 January 2017 — “A FORMER KGB spy chief suspected of helping Brit spook Christopher Steele compile the Trump ‘dirty dossier’ has been found dead in mysterious circumstances. Oleg Erovinkin, described as a key source behind the widely discredited document, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day.... ”

Trump suggested that former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey shared with him a file of alleged, but unconfirmed compromising material about Trump in order to gain leverage. "In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there," Trump told the New York Times 19 July 2017. He fired Comey in May 2017.

Comey testified before a U.S. Senate committee in June that he privately briefed Trump about the file in January because of the belief the material would soon be publicly reported and that the intelligence community should not keep knowledge of the material from the president-elect.

After Sessions recused himself, his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, appointed another former F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, as special counsel to carry out the Russia probe. Committees in the Senate and House of Representatives are conducting their own investigations as well.

Trump has repeatedly insisted there was no link. "I have done nothing wrong. A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case," he told the Times.

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Page last modified: 30-07-2021 18:08:07 ZULU