Twist in le­gal bat­tle

Trump lawyer forced to re­veal an­other client: Sean Han­nity


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 in court that he had also se­cretly done le­gal work for Fox News host Sean Han­nity.

The dis­clo­sure came as Co­hen’s at­tor­neys tried to per­suade a fed­eral judge in New York 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.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood said in hear­ings Fri­day and again on Mon­day that if Co­hen wanted the court to de­clare that the some of his files were pro­tected be­cause of at­tor­ney con­fi­den­tial­ity rules, he would have to di­vulge the names of his clients.

In a court fil­ing Mon­day, Co­hen’s at­tor­neys said three peo­ple re­ceived le­gal help from Co­hen in 2017 and 2018, af­ter Trump be­came pres­i­dent.

One was Trump him­self. An­other was El­liot 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.

But they ini­tially de­clined to re­veal the name of the third client.

The third le­gal client di­rected Mr. Co­hen not to re­veal the iden­tity pub­licly, Co­hen’s lawyers, Todd Har­ri­son and Stephen Ryan, wrote. “It al­most goes with­out say­ing, un­for­tu­nately, that none of Mr. Co­hen’s clients want to be as­so­ci­ated with the gov­ern­ment raid on his home and law of­fice, or want to be af­fil­i­ated in any way with the pro­ceed­ings here and the at­ten­dant me­dia cov­er­age.”

Wood, though, de­manded the name.

“I un­der­stand he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough un­der the law,” she said.

An email sent to Fox News seek­ing com­ment from Han­nity was not im­me­di­ately re­turned.

The hear­ing was on­go­ing Mon­day af­ter­noon.

It 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 a le­gal fight in­volv­ing the pres­i­dent and an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his per­sonal at­tor­ney.

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 is­sue is ex­actly who gets to look at Co­hen’s seized doc­u­ments and de­vices be­fore they are turned over to prose­cu­tors. At­tor­neys for Co­hen say they want first crack. Trump’s lawyers say they also want some form of prior re­view. An­other op­tion is to set up a “spe­cial mas­ter” who will vet the ma­te­rial to de­ter­mine what is pro­tected and what isn’t; that is the Co­hen team’s sec­ond choice.

Prose­cu­tors, who say they raided Co­hen’s of­fice, home and ho­tel room as part of an undis­closed crime re­lated to his per­sonal busi­ness deal­ings, pre­fer the or­di­nary pro­ce­dure of re­view­ing the doc­u­ments with a panel of prose­cu­tors un­re­lated to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion - a so-called “taint team.”

At stake is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that could get at the heart of Trump’s long­time fixer and im­age pro­tec­tor. Peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the probe told The As­so­ci­ated Press 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.


Michael Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney, ar­rives for a hear­ing at fed­eral court Mon­day in New York.

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