Cohen's third client is Sean Hannity

Michael Cohen's attorney disclosed in court that Cohen's client who had requested to remain unnamed was Sean Hannity. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz reports.

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 4:48 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 4:50 PM

A US judge said President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen could review materials seized when the FBI raided his home, office and hotel room last week for any communications with the President, but held off on deciding how prosecutors will ultimately be able to use the evidence.

In a hearing that lasted over two hours in a courtroom packed with reporters, Judge Kimba Wood declined to immediately grant Cohen's request to have an independent arbiter -- or special master -- review the documents and records. But she also did not immediately give prosecutors the go-ahead to have an independent or "taint team" of investigators review the seized material for items that could be covered by attorney-client privilege.

"I'm denying the motion for a (temporary restraining order) because it's currently moot. The government is not accessing anything," the judge declared. "With respect to a preliminary injunction, that, I think, is premature at this point. We have to wait and see what the volume is and how you can argue."

Instead, the judge split the decision, ordering both sides to return with an estimate of the volume of evidence that could be covered by attorney-client privilege and then she would decide the expedient way of handling that review.

"I have faith in the Southern District US Attorney's Office that their integrity is unimpeachable," Wood said. "So I think that a taint team is a viable option."

The judge said she would decide whether a special master would adjudicate what investigators can access, as requested by Cohen.

"In terms of perception of fairness -- not fairness itself, but perception of fairness -- a special master might have a role here," Wood said. "Maybe not the complete role, but some role."

The judge asked each side to provide four names as potential special masters, but made clear she has not made a final decision.

Cohen declined to comment on the ruling while leaving the courtroom.

Trump's attorney Joanna Hendon said she and her client object to the appointment of a special master to review for privileged documents, arguing, "We don't think a special master will adequately protect the privilege of the President." The President's attorneys proposed reviewing the records themselves to decide what needed to be excluded.

Cohen's lawyer can share subsets of the material with Trump and the Trump Organization for their own privilege review.

Cohen's lawyers have called the raid "completely unprecedented."

"This is perhaps the most highly publicized search warrant in the history of recent American criminal jurisprudence. It is paramount that the review of Mr. Cohen's data and documents be handled in such a way as to eliminate, as much as possible, even the 'appearance of unfairness,' " they argued in a letter to Wood.

Stephen Ryan, an attorney for Cohen, said Trump Organization materials had been seized in the raid. He added that Cohen's "life has been turned upside down." Ryan also called the separate investigations by Congress and the special counsel into whether there had been collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign related to the 2016 election a "dry hole."

Last week, prosecutors said in a court filing that they have been investigating Cohen for months "for criminal conduct that largely centers on his personal business dealings." On Monday, a little more detail was shed on the still-sealed areas the government is investigating.

Prosecutor Thomas McKay told the judge during a sidebar session on Friday, "This is a fast-moving investigation. We are devoting a large amount of resources to the whole case but, in particular, to our filter team to get this review done very quickly." The transcript of that exchange was released by the court Monday.

McKay told the court on Monday that 10 boxes of documents had been seized, as well as "hard drives, the electronic devices" with a lot more material.

McKay, without wanting to detail specific subjects, also noted that some matters pertain to documents from January 2013 and on other matters the dates were from "post-2011."

Cohen's lawyer said the search warrant also sought "five paragraphs" that dealt directly with "seeking the papers of the President of the United States" that were in Cohen's possession, including material about the Trump Organization.

Prosecutors said Cohen appeared to have few clients other than the President and they had not uncovered any emails between the two, suggesting the potential risk of violating attorney-client privilege was slim.

In a letter submitted before Monday's hearing, Cohen's attorneys said he had 10 clients in 2017 to 2018 but that only three of them were regarding legal matters. The other seven were of a business consulting nature.

The letter identified two of the clients, Trump and former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who has acknowledged paying $1.6 million to a Playboy model with whom he had an affair. After a lengthy back-and-forth, the judge ordered Cohen's lawyers to identify the third client, who Ryan said had asked to remain confidential, and was told it was Fox News host Sean Hannity.

On his radio show Monday, Hannity said, "I never retained him in the traditional sense," and that he believed his conversations about legal questions were confidential.

"I've known Michael a long, long time. Let me be very clear to the media. Michael never represented me in any matter. I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer. I never received an invoice from Michael. I never paid legal fees to Michael," Hannity said.

"But I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective," he added. "And I assume that those conversations were attorney-client confidential."

Hannity added, "not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever, ever involved a matter between me and any third party."

Fox News host Shepard Smith acknowledged Hannity's connection to Cohen on the air Monday.

"We just spoke with his publicist here at Fox News, who says that he says they have been friends a long time, he never denied that he was his lawyer, that he did some legal work for him along the way, and that's the extent of that," Smith said.

The suggestion that Hannity wasn't a serious client bolsters prosecutors' assertion that Cohen had no clients other than Trump in recent years, which they argued meant the potential scope of privileged material would be narrow.

Cohen's relationship to Broidy surfaced Friday when Broidy acknowledged Cohen had helped facilitate the $1.6 million payment to a former Playboy model who said she became pregnant from a relationship with Broidy. Broidy resigned from his position as deputy chair of the Republican National Committee on Friday when the payment became public.

Broidy admitted to the relationship in a statement but did not address whether he had impregnated the woman. He said Cohen reached out to him after being contacted by Keith Davidson, an attorney for the woman, and that he retained Trump's lawyer "after he informed me about his prior relationship with Mr. Davidson."

Davidson also represented former adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model. Both women claimed to have had affairs with Trump, who has denied the allegations, more than a decade ago.

The search warrant authorizing the Cohen raid indicated that prosecutors were looking into potential bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, sources told CNN last week. The warrant also sought information that included payments allegedly made to keep Daniels and McDougal silent.

Daniels attended Friday's hearing, entering at the end, and was directed to a metal folding chair along the wall of the courtroom. Her attorney, who was also present, did not speak during the hearing. She did address a throng of news cameras in front of the courthouse afterward.

"He has played by a different set of rules, or should we say no rules at all," she said of Cohen. "He has never thought that the little man, or especially women, and even more, women like me, mattered. That ends now."

"My attorney and I are committed to making sure that everyone finds out the truth and facts of what happened, and I give my word that we will not rest until that happens," Daniels said.

This story has been updated.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 147582

Reported Deaths: 3937
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24410780
Lake12911350
St. Joseph8651154
Elkhart8281130
Allen7756221
Hamilton5872113
Vanderburgh547750
Tippecanoe346414
Monroe316238
Hendricks3116130
Johnson2947127
Porter288948
Clark280857
Delaware277174
Vigo245534
Madison224587
Cass220120
LaPorte208853
Warrick185362
Floyd170865
Kosciusko169221
Howard155366
Bartholomew137557
Dubois133423
Marshall129826
Henry120728
Boone117748
Grant116839
Wayne114923
Hancock112844
Noble110033
Jackson106412
Morgan90840
Dearborn89528
Daviess82732
Gibson8229
Clinton80116
Shelby76929
Lawrence76732
LaGrange76114
Harrison72924
Putnam69415
Knox68610
DeKalb67411
Posey6695
Steuben5798
Miami5655
Montgomery55722
Fayette55615
White55615
Jasper5264
Greene50537
Scott50313
Decatur49339
Adams4555
Clay4266
Whitley4246
Ripley4138
Sullivan40612
Wells4045
Orange38124
Starke3787
Wabash3769
Spencer3656
Huntington3645
Franklin35925
Jennings35813
Washington3452
Randolph3318
Jefferson3275
Fulton3232
Pike31512
Carroll30513
Perry28214
Jay2756
Fountain2733
Tipton26123
Parke2152
Newton20511
Vermillion2031
Owen1991
Rush1984
Martin1930
Blackford1843
Crawford1401
Pulaski1401
Brown1283
Ohio1167
Benton1060
Union1010
Switzerland840
Warren721
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 181787

Reported Deaths: 5067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30590635
Cuyahoga19212671
Hamilton15890338
Montgomery9883184
Lucas8058370
Butler7856122
Summit6406260
Warren393360
Stark3605178
Mahoning3567283
Marion332149
Pickaway294646
Delaware275927
Lorain262389
Fairfield254156
Licking241065
Wood240181
Clark231654
Clermont225936
Trumbull2174134
Greene210840
Columbiana207887
Allen195873
Miami191056
Lake184757
Medina175542
Portage153067
Mercer143327
Ross130533
Wayne125968
Richland125724
Tuscarawas117822
Athens11452
Erie111453
Darke108850
Madison101314
Hancock97520
Auglaize92716
Lawrence88524
Putnam86127
Shelby85014
Geauga81950
Muskingum8174
Scioto7709
Belmont76827
Union7203
Ashtabula71348
Huron6909
Sandusky69022
Seneca57614
Preble57417
Ottawa55930
Holmes53710
Fulton4726
Henry44217
Jefferson4384
Defiance43713
Clinton42013
Jackson4197
Fayette4188
Crawford4088
Logan3923
Champaign3783
Highland3714
Ashland3705
Brown3583
Knox35215
Perry35011
Washington32423
Morrow3222
Williams3124
Hardin30913
Coshocton28612
Pike2780
Wyandot27813
Gallia27413
Guernsey2688
Van Wert2153
Meigs20512
Adams1936
Hocking1899
Carroll1887
Paulding1791
Monroe14118
Noble1120
Vinton853
Harrison763
Morgan690
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
48° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 48°
Angola
Overcast
45° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Huntington
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Decatur
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 46°
Van Wert
Overcast
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 46°
Cloudy Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events