Pres­i­dent’s lawyer forced to re­veal work for Fox News host

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW YORK — A le­gal fight over what should hap­pen to records the FBI seized from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney took a sur­prise twist Mon­day when the lawyer, Michael Co­hen, was forced to re­veal a se­cret — that he had also done le­gal work for Fox News host Sean Han­nity.

The dis­clo­sure came as a New York judge dis­ap­pointed a lawyer for Trump by let­ting pros­e­cu­tors pro­ceed with the cat­a­logu­ing of ev­i­dence in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple elec­tronic de­vices that were seized in raids while a sys­tem is set up to en­sure that records pro­tected by at­tor­ney-client priv­i­lege aren’t dis­closed to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Lawyers for Co­hen and pros­e­cu­tors both had rea­son to claim success af­ter three hours of ar­gu­ments be­fore U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who said she may ap­point a spe­cial master, a neu­tral lawyer, to help de­cide which ma­te­ri­als should stay con­fi­den­tial.

Wood de­nied a re­quest by Trump’s lawyer, Joanna Hen­don, that the pres­i­dent and Co­hen get the first crack at des­ig­nat­ing which doc­u­ments should be off lim­its to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Han­nity’s name emerged af­ter the judge pressed Co­hen to di­vulge the names of the clients he’s worked with since the 2016 elec­tion, whose priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ca­tions might be con­tained within his files.

Co­hen’s le­gal team said he had just three clients in 2017 and 2018.

One was Trump. An­other was El­liott Broidy, a Trump fundraiser who re­signed from the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee on Fri­day af­ter it was re­vealed that he paid $1.6 mil­lion to a Play­boy Play­mate with whom he had an ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair. The Play­mate be­came preg­nant and elected to have an abor­tion.

Co­hen’s lawyers re­sisted re­veal­ing the name of the third client, say­ing it would be em­bar­rass­ing and un­nec­es­sary.

Plus, the client had specif­i­cally asked for pri­vacy and re­quested that they ap­peal any de­mand to di­vulge his name. But Wood pressed on. “I un­der­stand he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough un­der the law,” she said, af­ter hear­ing le­gal ar­gu­ments from Robert Balin, a lawyer for five news or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing The As­so­ci­ated Press.

When the name was an­nounced, there were gasps and some laugh­ter in a court­room packed with jour­nal­ists. A few of them raced from the court­room.

Co­hen’s lawyers did not de­tail the type of le­gal work he did for Han­nity.

On his ra­dio show, Han­nity said Co­hen was never in­volved in any mat­ter be­tween him and any third party.

“Michael never rep­re­sented me in any mat­ter,” Han­nity said. “I never re­tained him in any tra­di­tional sense. I never re­ceived an in­voice. I never paid a le­gal fee. I had brief dis­cus­sions with him about le­gal ques­tions where I wanted his in­put and per­spec­tive.”

Later, he added on Twit­ter the

le­gal ad­vice he got from Co­hen was “al­most ex­clu­sively about real es­tate.”

Han­nity, an out­spo­ken sup­porter of Trump, has been a fierce critic of spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, who is look­ing into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Mon­day’s hear­ing be­gan with an ap­pear­ance by porn ac­tress Stormy Daniels, who was swarmed by pho­tog­ra­phers and nearly fell as she was hus­tled into the court­house, a scene that cap­tured the sen­sa­tional at­mos­phere around the case.

The last to en­ter court, she was among the first to leave. While in court, she smiled several times as she ob­served the pro­ceed­ings from a fold­ing chair near the back of the room. Out­side af­ter­ward, she said Co­hen has acted like he’s above the law and that she and her lawyer are com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure every­one learns the truth.

The April 9 raid on Co­hen sought in­for­ma­tion on a va­ri­ety of mat­ters, in­clud­ing a $130,000 pay­ment made to Daniels, who al­leges she had sex with a mar­ried Trump in 2006.

At stake is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that could un­cover the in­ner work­ings of Trump’s long­time fixer and im­age pro­tec­tor. Peo­ple

fa­mil­iar with the probe told the AP that agents were seek­ing bank records, records on Co­hen’s deal­ing in the taxi in­dus­try, Co­hen’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the Trump cam­paign and in­for­ma­tion on pay­ments made in 2016 to two women who say they had af­fairs with Trump, former Play­boy model Karen McDou­gal and the porn star Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clif­ford.

Lawyers for Co­hen filed pa­pers Mon­day say­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors “took ev­ery­thing” dur­ing the raids, in­clud­ing more than a dozen elec­tronic de­vices.

As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Thomas McKay said in court that the govern­ment took im­ages of the con­tents of most elec­tronic de­vices, leav­ing them be­hind af­ter the raids, and that cat­a­logu­ing ev­i­dence might be de­layed be­cause some de­vices must be sent to an FBI lab­o­ra­tory to “de­crypt” be­cause they re­quire code words.

Pros­e­cu­tors say that ma­te­rial should be re­viewed by a team of Jus­tice De­part­ment lawyers in­de­pen­dent from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion who could iden­tify records that should re­main con­fi­den­tial. That team, they said, could pro­vide the doc­u­ments to Trump and other Co­hen clients for their re­view.


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