STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Cooper breaks down Cohen court bombshell

CNN's Anderson Cooper breaks down the revelation that President Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen also represents Fox News host Sean Hannity, according to Cohen's attorneys.

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 10:49 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 10:51 PM

Fox host Sean Hannity just helped the government's case against President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, tremendously. Even irony itself was not prepared for that development.

Courtroom drama peaked Monday at a hearing in lower Manhattan when Michael Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, reluctantly revealed to Judge Kimba Wood -- a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York -- that Cohen's mystery third client was Hannity, the bombastic, unconditional champion of citizen-turned-candidate-turned-President, Donald Trump.

But the shock of that third-client revelation paled in comparison to Hannity's shocking denial, soon after, that he and Michael Cohen were ever in an attorney-client relationship.

In fact, while responding on his radio show to news that he had been identified as one of Cohen's three clients, Hannity explicitly stated that he was never represented by nor had he ever retained Cohen. He bent over backwards to deny the relationship, claiming nothing more than a few harmless chit-chats over real estate.

In an effort to distinguish his interactions with Cohen from those of Trump and Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy (the other two clients), Hannity implied that his own exchanges with Cohen did not entail the silencing of any alleged sexual partner, as these exchanges did not involve any third party.

Said Hannity, on his radio show Monday: "Not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever -- ever -- involved a matter between me and any third party."

Although he later clarified his comments to suggest that he expected that some of his conversations with Cohen would be confidential, his earlier denial that a relationship ever existed renders that expectation unpersuasive. It is gratuitous doublespeak.

Hannity's denial fatally undermined any credible claim by Cohen that their communications were protected from disclosure by the attorney client privilege. The privilege extends to only those private conversations that take place within an established attorney-client relationship, and even then, those conversations must specifically pertain to legal advice. The privilege does not extend to conversations simply because one of its participants happens to be an attorney.

Interestingly enough, this is precisely what the government argued in favor of the disclosure of Cohen's communications with other purported clients. To get the search warrant in the first place, the government had to have convinced the court that Cohen and his so-called clients were not actually in an attorney-client relationship, and therefore their conversations were not privileged.

Hannity just confirmed that to be true, at least with respect to himself. That certainly undermined the credibility of Cohen and perhaps explains why Cohen wanted to keep their relationship confidential.

But even if an attorney-client relationship between Cohen and Hannity did actually exist, it is the client, not the attorney, who controls the disclosure of communication. Even if Cohen wanted to disclose the discussions, he would only be allowed to do so if Hannity agreed to it.

But in this case, Hannity isn't asserting the privilege, so Cohen lacks any basis not to disclose the information or to prevent the government from looking at any communications between himself and Hannity.

The accidental client is a legal possibility. It is an attorney's responsibility to confirm the existence of an attorney-client relationship or clarify someone's confusion as to whether one exists. But the notion of an accidental attorney is a legal absurdity. And yet, that is the very absurdity on which Cohen rests his claim.

In a political world of legal semantics and lawerly answers that hedge more than they clarify, some things are unmistakably clear: if a client doesn't think you are his attorney, you're not.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this commentary omitted the final two paragraphs.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Angola
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Mostly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Van Wert
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 54°
Sunshine and warmer air return to round out the work week, but the warm-up is brief.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events