A gasp was heard in the courtroom when a lawyer for Michael Cohen disclosed the name of his third client: Sean Hannity.
Hannity is a Fox News host and has been one of President Donald Trump's most vocal on-air defenders. and a critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Trump often calls Hannity after his Fox News program, according to media reports.
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.
Cohen is Trump's personal attorney.
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.
Cohen's lawyers did not detail the nature of the legal work he did for Hannity.
But 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."
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.
Journalist Gabe Sherman told MSNBC that sources told him Hannity had talked to Cohen advice about going after left-wing groups who had been trying to take him off the air.
Hannity was watching the program live, and texted host Nicolle Wallace to say Sherman wasn't being truthful.
"He says what Gabe said is a lie," Wallace told Sherman. "I never asked Michael about left wing attacks versus me."
Hannity later tweeted that his interactions with Cohen were "almost exclusively about real estate."
Information for Bloomberg News and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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