Jerry Falwell Jr. confirmed that he loaned $1.8 million to a young pool attendant he and his wife had befriended while staying six years ago at a luxury hotel.
Buzzfeed News had previously reported on a lawsuit that claimed the evangelical leader and his wife had developed a “friendly relationship” in 2012 with Giancarlo Granda, then 21 years old, at Fontainebleau Miami Beach, and Falwell confirmed in a court filing that he helped set up the younger man in business.
A source close to Falwell told Buzzfeed News he was "sure" Falwell had discussed the Granda case with former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who was sentenced earlier this month to three years in prison as part of a case involving payoffs to Trump mistresses.
Buzzfeed said there was "no evidence" that the discussions played a role in Falwell's subsequent decision to endorse Trump for president.
"My wife and I provided a loan of $1 million," Falwell said. “Later, my wife and I provided additional funds of $800,000 for renovations of Alton Hostel which are being treated as an additional loan.”
A father-and-son duo who also participated in the business filed a lawsuit last year claiming they were pushed out of the deal, and that filing revealed Falwell's involvement.
Falwell filed an affidavit this month in response to the suit, saying he gave Granda the loan “in exchange for his agreement to serve as local manager.”
The filing does not explain why Falwell invested so heavily in the hostel or why Granda was hired as the manager despite having no relevant experience in real estate or hotel management.
Granda was introduced in 2012 to Trump, then a reality TV star and real estate mogul, at Liberty University, where the celebrity businessman was giving a convocation speech, which was also attended by Cohen.
It's not clear why Granda, who was not a Liberty student, was at the Christian university.
(Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly claimed that Michael Cohen helped broker the payment between Jerry Falwell Jr. and Giancarlo Granda. We regret the error.)