The long-time personal lawyer of the President of the United States, Michael Cohen, was in a federal district court Monday, April 16, asking a judge to limit the ability of prosecutors to make use of the documents that federal agents have seized in recent raids on his home and offices.
The Judge, Kimba Wood, did not rule on that request. There will be further hearings and she did say that the use of a special master to screen the documents protected by lawyer-client privilege is an option, a special master “might have some role here.”
Cohen’s lawyer said that over the last year and a half, he has had three clients: the President; Elliott Broidy (an official in the Republican National Committee); and a third client whose name he did not want to disclose.
But in the course of the hearing Monday Wood pressed Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, to tell her the name of the previously unnamed client. Judge Wood said, “I understand if he [the mystery client] doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough under the law.” Ryan then said that the third client was Sean Hannity, a Fox News anchor.
It is understandable that Hannity didn’t want this “out there,” because he has repeatedly denounced the raids in question without mentioning to his audience that they were raids on the home and office of his own lawyer.
Reactions to the disclosure about Hannity were immediate and intense.
Left Wing View
The left in the United States has no love for Hannity or for Fox News, and the fact that his name is on Cohen’s short client list seemed, to leftists, all too fitting.
Rachel Maddow, who has a show on MSNBC that bears her name, said, “I am still struggling not to laugh” at a situation she also called “just lurid.”
Henry Grabar, writing in center-left online periodical Slate, retailed a vivid description of the courtroom at the moment of the disclosure of Hannity’s name, saying that the “wide-eyed reporters” in the room “turned from side to side, exchanging glances.” Some immediately left the room, having made the decision that they had just witnessed the hearing’s most newsworthy development.
Salon headlined a piece, “Sean Hannity, Michael Cohen, and Donald Trump: Three Amigos, Caught in a web of stupidity.” The author of that piece, Heather Digby Parton, thinks it odd that a man of the means of Sean Hannity “would consult a thuggish fixer such as Cohen for routine legal advice when he can clearly afford any top-drawer lawyer he wants.” Her implication is that the Hannity-Cohen relationship wasn’t a matter of routine advice, but a matter of something more fixer-worthy, which Hannity needs to keep secret.
Right Wing View
Sean Hannity’s own statements since his name came out in court have seemed to want to say two very different things: both that there wasn’t any significant lawyer-client relationship between himself and Cohen, and that he expected confidentiality from the nature of the relationship.
But way of “having his cake,” he tweets, “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter,” and more in that line. But by way of “eating it” he also tweets, “I assumed those conversations were confidential.”
Others on the right reacted as did a twitter denizen who calls himself Stonewall Jackson. Stonewall declared, “Hannity will be fine, #1 Cable news show in America, and climbing.”
Similarly, many on the right have decided that the issue is the sanctity of the lawyer-client relationship, and hold that the mere fact that Cohen was required to make this disclosure in court is a shocking violation thereof.
Yet it is worth noting in conclusion that Alan Dershowitz, a renowned lawyer and law professor who of late has acquired a conservative and Trump-supporting reputation, has been very critical of Hannity on this matter.