Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer, also worked as a lawyer for Fox News pundit Sean Hannity.
The revelation came during a court hearing Monday over whether federal prosecutors can go through documents they seized during a raid of Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room last week. According to Bloomberg, a collective "gasp was heard in the courtroom" after Cohen's lawyer made the disclosure.
Cohen’s attorneys are in court seeking a temporary restraining order, arguing that attorney-client privilege should preclude investigators from going through the seized documents. Some of those records are reportedly related to a $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen’s lawyers want Cohen to be able to look through the records before investigators examine them to determine for himself whether they’re protected by attorney-client privilege. Barring that, they say, they’d like some type of objective observer to search through the seized documents first.
However, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, which is handling Cohen’s case, plans to use a “taint team” to go through the documents. That team would be comprised of lawyers unconnected to the investigation, who would then let the main investigators see records that aren’t protected by attorney-client privilege.
In court filings, Cohen said he had at least 10 clients in 2017-2018 but provided “traditional legal tasks” for three. Cohen’s second client was Elliott Broidy, a GOP fundraiser who resigned from his role as deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee after the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Cohen negotiated payments of $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who Broidy impregnated in an affair.
“I understand if he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough under the law,” Judge Kimba Wood said, according to Reuters.
Hannity’s radio show, which started with dead air just minutes after his connection to Cohen was revealed, avoided addressing the Cohen hearing for nearly 45 minutes. Then, after talking about James Comey, Syria, and Hillary Clinton’s emails, Hannity finally said he’s an old friend of Cohen’s and confirmed that Cohen gave him legal advice, though he didn’t specify what the advice regarded.
“Michael never represented me in any matter, I never retained in him in the traditional sense,” Hannity said, adding that he never paid legal fees to Cohen or received an invoice from him. While he said he’d ask Cohen for attorney-client privilege to discuss this advice, Hannity declared, “Not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on, ever, ever involved a matter between me and any third party.”
Hannity then added that he might’ve given Cohen money at some point: “I might’ve handed him 10 bucks, [saying], ‘I definitely want attorney-client privilege on this.’”
Hours later, Hannity clarified on Twitter that his discussions with Cohen “dealt almost exclusively with real estate.”
The hearing drew a huge swarm of press and high-profile onlookers: Stormy Daniels, who is entangled in a separate lawsuit against Trump, also showed up at the courthouse to watch the Cohen hearing. Also present was disgraced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Cover image: Pundit Sean Hannity attends The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People in Media event at The Pool on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)