President Donald Trump’s personal attorney has been forced to reveal that one of his clients is Fox News host Sean Hannity, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues confirmed Monday. Lawyers for Michael Cohen argued in court on Monday that they could not identify Hannity because he asked that his name not be disclosed in connection with an FBI seizure of Cohen’s files. But Judge Kimba Wood made one of the lawyers identify him in open court.
After Wood demanded Cohen’s team reveal the name of the client, an audible gasp went out in the courtroom when Hannity’s name was announced, Pegues said.
The hearing in a New York City courtroom stems from a surprise raid this month on Cohen’s home and office.
The search sought information on a variety of matters, including a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had sex with a married Trump in 2006. Daniels was in the courtroom on Monday for the arguments.
Cohen only had three clients for whom Cohen’s work involved direct legal advice or dispute resolution. In a letter filed with the court last Monday, Cohen’s lawyers said that Cohen had a solo law practice and had at least 10 clients during this time. For seven, the letter said, the work “appears to be providing strategic advice and business consulting, for which privilege would not attach.” And none of those seven files were likely to have information relevant to what was being sought by the search warrant, his lawyers note.
But, for at least those three other clients, during 2017-2018, Cohen was performing “more traditional legal tasks,” the letter said. All three are individuals. One is Donald Trump. The second is Elliot Brody, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, hired Cohen to negotiate $1.6 million in payments to a former Playboy model who said Broidy had impregnated her. Cohen’s lawyers then wrote of Hannity, “The third legal client directed Mr. Cohen not to reveal the identity publicly.”
Prosecutors are arguing that the documents and electronics seized from Cohen’s office and home should not be protected by attorney-client privilege.
Jeff Pegues and Clare Hymes contributed to this report. This is a developing story and will be updated.