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Trump fixer helped Jerry Falwell, Jr cover up scandal involving racy photographs: report

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Longtime Donald Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen — who reported to federal prison for a three-year term on Monday — was asked by Jerry Falwell, Jr. to cover up a scandal, Reuters reported Tuesday.

“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,” the publication reported.

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Reuters noted that “Falwell, president of Liberty University, one of the world’s largest Christian universities, 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 photos were reportedly destroyed after Cohen intervened.

“The Falwells enlisted Cohen’s help in 2015, according to the source familiar with Cohen’s thinking, the year Trump announced his presidential candidacy. At the time, Cohen was Trump’s confidant and personal lawyer, and he worked for the Trump Organization,” Reuters noted.

Falwell’s relationship with Donald Trump has long puzzled political and religious observers.

“Cohen would later prove successful in another matter involving Falwell, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. 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,” Reuters reported.

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“Falwell’s backing helped galvanize evangelicals and persuaded many Christians concerned about Trump’s past behavior to embrace him as a repentant sinner,” Reuters noted. “Falwell’s support for Trump has not wavered throughout the New York celebrity-politician’s own tribulations, including the Access Hollywood recording of Trump talking about grabbing women’s genitals and payoffs made by Cohen to hide Trump’s extramarital affairs.”

In the recordings, Cohen described seeing one of the photographs.

“I actually have one of the photos,” Cohen said. “It’s terrible.”

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White House budget official agrees to testify to Congress about his department’s role in Ukraine military aid delay: report

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On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Mark Sandy, a career official at the Office of Management and Budget, will testify to Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's apparent scheme to extort Ukraine with military aid.

This comes after three political appointees at OMB, including acting Director Russel Vought, defied congressional subpoenas to appear, in accordance with the president's directive to refuse to cooperate with the probe.

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Nikki Haley breaks with Trump on retaliation: ‘You have to protect the whistleblower’

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Nikki Haley broke with President Donald Trump on the question of outing the White House whistleblower during a Thursday appearance on CNN.

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations, was interviewed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

" Do you agree with the president that the whistleblower should be named and identified?" Blitzer asked.

"I believe in whistle-blower laws. I think you have to protect the whistle-blower and I think in turn they have to abide by those laws, the fact they don’t allow partisan leaking or anything like that to happen," Haley replied. "We don’t know that’s happened either, but until then I do think we should always protect the whistleblower."

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Apple hires major Trump donor as lobbyist — to beg the president to lay off his trade war tariffs: report

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On Thursday, CNBC reported that Apple is hiring Jeffrey Miller to be a lobbyist on "trade issues as they relate to technological goods and services."

Miller is a longtime ally of President Donald Trump who served as the vice chairman of the president's inaugural committee. He has since been a major donor for Trump's 2020 re-election campaign.

"While it’s unclear how much Miller is being paid for his services, Apple has spent more than $5.5 million on lobbying efforts throughout 2019, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics," wrote CNBC's Brian Schwartz. "Most of those funds have gone toward paying their own in-house lobbyists but it has tapped four other firms outside the company for help this year."

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