The letter was sent in response to accusations against Hannity made by the controversial conservative activist Debbie Schlussel. During an appearance on the Pat Campbell show on KFAQ last April, Schlussel said Hannity had been “creepy” towards her and had invited her to his hotel room.
Hannity responded at the time by calling the allegations “100 percent false and a complete fabrication,” and said that he had hired lawyers to plan a response. “This letter provides notice that Ms. Schlussel’s statements are false and defamatory,” the letter read. “Continued publication will result in further exposure to liability because of continued harm to Mr. Hannity’s impeccable reputation.”
On Monday, Schlussel said she remembered that the radio station where she made the remarks had received a legal letter afterwards, but she didn’t know who the lawyer was. Reached by phone on Tuesday, Toensing acknowledged that “at that time” she was acting as Hannity’s lawyer but wouldn’t comment on whether she still represents him.
“I’ve just learned in the press that anybody who is Sean Hannity’s lawyer is going to be blasted so I think this phone call is over,” Toensing said. “I’m wondering what attorney-client privilege means to anybody. I don’t say who my clients are, sometimes I do, and many times, most of the time, I do not.”
Sekulow, diGenova, and Toensing have frequently appeared on Hannity’s program; diGenova appeared on the show as recently as Monday night. Asked for comment, Hannity sent a text consisting of NewsBusters and Daily Caller links to stories about ethical misconduct in the mainstream media and declined to offer further comment. “I don’t have time for these silly questions,” he said.
Sekulow didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. After publication of this story, a Fox News spokesperson sent an example of Hannity mentioning Sekulow as his lawyer. On May 23, 2017, two days before the letter was sent, he said on his show that Sekulow had “done legal work for me in the past.”
The addition of Toensing and diGenova to Trump’s legal team was recently announced, but then swiftly reversed. “The President is disappointed that conflicts prevent Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing from joining the President’s Special Counsel legal team,” Sekulow said in a statement at the time. “However, those conflicts do not prevent them from assisting the President in other legal matters. The President looks forward to working with them.”
When the Cohen news came out, Hannity insisted that Cohen had not really been his lawyer and that he had only asked him for advice regarding real estate. “I never retained his services, I never received an invoice, I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees,” Hannity said on his show on Monday night. “I did have occasional brief conversations with Michael Cohen—he’s a great attorney—about legal questions I had where I was looking for input and perspective. My discussions with Michael Cohen never rose to any level that I needed to tell anyone that I was asking him questions and to be absolutely clear, they never involved any matter, any—sorry to disappoint so many—matter between me, a third party, a third group, at all.”