Michael Cohen’s previously unnamed third client is Fox News's Sean Hannity, a lawyer representing Cohen told a federal judge on Monday.
Cohen, President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE's personal lawyer, appeared in court Monday in connection with FBI raids last week of his office, home and hotel room. His lawyer argued that Cohen’s legal team or a court-appointed attorney should be able to review the materials seized in the raids to determine whether certain documents are protected by attorney–client privilege.
In weighing the merits of the case, Judge Kimba Wood ordered Cohen to provide information about his clients. He had already disclosed his work for Trump and GOP donor Elliott Broidy.
At that point, Cohen’s lawyers revealed Hannity to be the mystery third client.
“I understand he doesn’t want his name out there, but that isn’t the law,” Wood said, according to Bloomberg.
Robert Balin, an attorney representing the press’ interests in the case, argued that there is “intense public interest” in the identities of Cohen’s clients, according to Bloomberg.
Hannity downplayed his interactions with Cohen, asserting that he’d never formally represented him in legal proceedings.
“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective,” Hannity tweeted, adding that those conversations “dealt almost exclusively about real estate.”
In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen,— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 16, 2018
which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding.— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 16, 2018
Hannity frequently defends Trump on his Fox News show, and he reportedly dined with the president at Mar-a-Lago recently. Trump is known to call Hannity after his show and has often praised him for his ratings.
Hannity's connection to the case is the latest twist in a proceeding that has pitted Trump against his own Justice Department.
Federal agents reportedly seized financial records, communications between Trump and Cohen and materials related to Cohen’s payment of two women who have alleged they had affairs with the president more than a decade ago.
Cohen has disclosed his work for Trump, including that he paid $130,000 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims the payment was to keep her quiet about an affair she had with Trump in 2006.
It was also reported last week that Cohen helped negotiate a $1.6 million payment to a former Playboy model who claimed Broidy impregnated her after a consensual affair. Broidy stepped down last week as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee.
Cohen is reportedly under investigation for bank fraud and violations of campaign finance law.
Trump’s lawyers wrote the judge in the case on Sunday asking her to allow them to review materials seized in the raids to flag documents that fall under attorney-client privilege.
The lawyers argued that the Justice Department and its taint team of federal agents and prosecutors in the case could not evaluate the documents fairly.
The search warrants for the raids were obtained in part on a referral by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and has been the subject of frequent attacks from the president.
Trump has criticized his own Justice Department on multiple occasions, focusing on Mueller and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE in particular.
Updated: 5:22 p.m.