Genuinely stunning moments are hard to come by these days, but one arrived on Monday in a courtroom in New York City.
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s fixer, was in court, trying to shield documents seized in a raid Monday on his office, home, and hotel room from prosecutors. Cohen had invoked attorney-client privilege to ask the court to hold documents back, but there have been questions about the extent to which Cohen was actually working as a lawyer. Cohen’s attorneys said he had three clients for whom his work was legal in nature. Two were previously known: Trump, and Elliott Broidy, a major GOP fundraiser for whom Cohen arranged a $1.6 million payout to a Playboy Playmate whom he had impregnated.
Cohen’s lawyer wrote to Judge Kimba Wood, “The third legal client directed Mr. Cohen to not to reveal the identity publicly.” But Wood ordered Cohen to reveal the name Monday afternoon.
It was Sean Hannity.
The Fox News host himself offered contradictory responses, denying that Cohen had ever represented him as an attorney, yet saying elsewhere that he might have taken legal advice from him. In a statement provided by Fox, Hannity said:
Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.
On his radio show on Monday, Hannity offered a slightly different, and somewhat contradictory, answer. “Michael never represented me in any matter, I never retained him, I never paid legal fees to Michael,” Hannity said, appearing to contradict Cohen’s attorney’s statement in court. “But I have occasionally had brief legal discussions with him where I wanted his input and perspective.” Yet Hannity then said he “might have handed” Cohen $10 and said, “I want attorney-client privilege on this.” It’s not clear whether that would meet the legal standard to establish an attorney-client privilege.