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Trump backer Jerry Falwell Jr. says ex-Liberty U. board members engaged in 'criminal conspiracy' in effort to oust him as school president

Key Points
  • Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. says he is sharing documents with the FBI in what he says is a "criminal conspiracy" by former board members at the school to oust him from his office.
  • Falwell Jr., who is a prominent backer of President Donald Trump, made the claims a day after a Politico article described a so-called "culture of fear and self-dealing" at the private Christian university.
  • Liberty was founded by Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell Sr., who also co-founded the Moral Majority.
Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks during the final day of the 2016 Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016.
Brian van der Brug | Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. claimed Tuesday he is the target of a "criminal conspiracy" by former board members to oust him — and said he is sharing information about that alleged plot with the FBI.

Falwell's claims, which were made during an interview with Hill.TV, came a day after a bombshell Politico article detailing his leadership of Liberty University, a private Christian college in Lynchburg, Virginia.

That article, citing "more than two dozen current and former high-ranking Liberty University officials and close associates of Falwell," described a so-called "culture of fear and self-dealing" at the university, which was founded by Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell Sr., who also co-founded the Moral Majority.

Politico's sources detailed Falwell Jr.'s involvement in projects and real estate deals that have benefited his family and friends.

"We're not a school; we're a real estate hedge fund," said a senior university official quoted by Politico. "We're not educating; we're buying real estate every year and taking students' money to do it."

Falwell told The Hill, "Our attorneys have determined that this small group of former board members and employees, they're involved in a criminal conspiracy, are working together to steal Liberty property in the form of emails and provided them to reporters."

Falwell also told The Hill that he believes internal emails from the school have been leaked as part of a failed effort by former Liberty board members to depose him.

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And he said that FBI agents are expected to visit Liberty University in coming days to review university documents.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment by CNBC.

Falwell is a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump.

In May, it was reported that Falwell had approached Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen months before Falwell endorsed Trump's run for the White House in 2016 and asked Cohen for help in dealing with a personal issue.

Falwell, according to a conversation Cohen reportedly had with someone else, had told Cohen that a person had come into possession of "personal" photographs of the type that would be kept "between husband and wife."

The person who had the photos destroyed them after Cohen intervened, according to a source who spoke to the Reuters news service.

An attorney for Falwell and his wife called the claims "not accurate."

"While the Falwells have a long-standing friendship with Michael Cohen, they never engaged or paid Cohen to represent them in any legal or other professional capacity, and Cohen did not ever resolve any legal matter on their behalf," the statement said, according to The Washington Post.

The attorney told the Post in a text message, "There are no compromising or embarrassing photos of Falwell, period!"