The news about Jerry Falwell Jr. has finally clarified: The evangelical leader tells the Wall Street Journal that he is indeed out as president of Liberty University in Virginia. Falwell says he submitted his resignation to the school's board Monday night after conflicting reports about whether he had or had not resigned. The confusion apparently stemmed from negotiations over how much money he is due. His resignation follows a tumultuous few weeks. Coverage:
- His view: “The board put me on leave, took away my duties as prez, and that’s not permitted by my contract,” Falwell told the Journal. “And they put me on leave because of pressure from self-righteous people.”
- Scandals: First came the photo he posted on social media, with his pants open and his arm around the waist of his wife's female assistant, whose pants also were open. Then came the Reuters story detailing how his wife, Becki, had a years-long sexual relationship with a younger man, and how Falwell would watch them having sex. And before all that, Falwell took flak for his decision to bring students onto campus in March amid the pandemic, notes Axios.
- The code: Falwell may call his critics "self-righteous," but they in turn see hypocrisy. The Liberty honor code for students reads, “Sexual relations outside of a biblically ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University."
- His wife: While Falwell, 58, has been influential in politics and an ardent supporter of President Trump, his wife, 53, is also a political figure, notes Reuters. Among other things, she served on the advisory board of Women for Trump, and she spoke at CPAC on a panel with her husband and Donald Trump Jr. last year.
- Other man: Giancarlo Granda says he met the Falwells in 2012 at age 20 when he worked at a Miami hotel as a pool attendant. Jerry Falwell has acknowledged his wife's affair, but he calls Granda an "extortionist," adding, "Most of what that guy said ... is not true." BuzzFeed detailed in 2018 how the three went into business together.
- The shift: Politico reports that Jerry Falwell attempted to buy out Granda from their business venture in 2015, just before getting involved with Trump's campaign. Granda sees it as an attempt by Falwell to erase evidence of their relationship before taking on a bigger national profile. Falwell "admired Trump’s strongman public persona,” Granda tells the outlet. "Also, there was a noticeable personality change after Trump was elected. He was drunk on power and felt like he could get away with anything.” Falwell's endorsement of Trump was seen as pivotal for his 2016 candidacy.
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