As adult-film actress Stormy Daniels looked on, a federal judge ordered US President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen to cough up the name of a client he had hoped to keep secret at a Monday court hearing: Fox News personality Sean Hannity, an outspoken champion of the president.
Hannity is a conservative television host known for passionately advocating for Trump on his Fox News show, and sometimes receiving public praise from Trump in return.
Hannity eventually insisted that "Michael never represented me in any matter, I never retained him in any traditional sense in retaining a lawyer". He assumed those discussions were covered by attorney-client privilege, he said, and emphasized that they were never about matters involving "any third party".
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The disclosure came as Cohen's attorneys tried to persuade a federal judge in NY to delay prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices seized in the raids on the grounds that many of them are protected by attorney-client privilege. And on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen negotiated a $1.6 million payment to a former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with leading Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy that led to her being impregnated.
We knew Cohen had a handful of clients at the time his law office, home and hotel room were raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week. "It is paramount that the review of Mr. Cohen's data and documents be handled in such a way as to eliminate, as much as possible, even the 'appearance of unfairness, '" the letter said.
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One of Trump's lawyers, Joanna Hendon, asked the judge to block prosecutors from studying material seized in the raid until Cohen and the president have both had a chance to review those materials and argue which are subject to the "sacred" attorney-client privilege.
Cohen is under criminal investigation, prosecutors confirmed last Friday. He also listed in broad terms his legal work in the dozen years before he began working for the Trump Organization in 2007. Attorneys for Cohen say they want first crack.
The search warrant authorizing the raid indicated prosecutors were looking into potential violations of bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations, sources told CNN.
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