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Hannity: Cohen has never represented me

Fox News host Sean Hannity used his radio show to address his connection to President Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 5:39 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 5:41 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: 1560117

Reported Deaths: 20796
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2118112563
Lake1021301523
Allen964791027
Hamilton75541551
St. Joseph66476761
Elkhart51045634
Vanderburgh50511531
Tippecanoe45721338
Johnson39600527
Hendricks37933463
Porter35132476
Madison30330547
Clark27296331
Vigo26401347
Monroe24100249
LaPorte23921313
Howard23237381
Delaware22453370
Hancock19314220
Bartholomew18980216
Kosciusko18400204
Warrick17733216
Wayne16982303
Floyd16686257
Grant15966300
Morgan15091232
Boone13924138
Dearborn12235113
Shelby12225152
Noble12170142
Henry12027202
Dubois11696152
Marshall11625171
Jackson11111104
Cass10578143
Lawrence10529221
Huntington10523140
DeKalb10482132
Gibson10114127
Montgomery9671144
Harrison9471117
Knox9415125
Whitley902571
Steuben8934105
Putnam8542100
Miami8533135
Clinton849397
Jasper8462116
Jefferson8319127
Wabash8027140
Ripley7504117
Scott685787
Adams6829103
Daviess6825130
White638184
Greene6317112
Clay628975
Decatur6261121
Jennings619781
Wells6090121
Fayette6054122
Posey580148
LaGrange549097
Randolph5364129
Washington528071
Owen5211100
Fountain493681
Spencer467456
Sullivan462066
Fulton450993
Orange449784
Starke448887
Rush433941
Jay432564
Perry409155
Carroll394749
Franklin394650
Vermillion370762
Pike334246
Parke331239
Tipton330475
Blackford282255
Pulaski281775
Brown239856
Newton239761
Benton228921
Crawford224932
Switzerland207914
Martin196722
Warren183922
Union178119
Ohio129216
Unassigned0763

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2515949

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2719422100
Cuyahoga2606673087
Hamilton1758091756
Montgomery1177451651
Summit1089011418
Lucas935321193
Butler83907963
Stark771001431
Lorain64214809
Warren53428489
Mahoning51224930
Lake47591611
Clermont46928452
Delaware41107220
Trumbull39746790
Licking38790416
Medina38646427
Fairfield35828349
Greene34313435
Portage32429366
Clark32361453
Richland29653444
Wood29379301
Allen25875403
Miami24243408
Muskingum23564255
Columbiana23046409
Wayne22093365
Tuscarawas19637428
Marion18616235
Erie18608224
Ashtabula18569362
Scioto18159214
Ross17594260
Pickaway16419181
Hancock16115232
Geauga15511229
Lawrence15094186
Belmont14236248
Union1419584
Huron13908184
Jefferson13656261
Sandusky13268200
Athens12877107
Knox12160201
Seneca12055204
Darke11440202
Ashland11248184
Washington11152172
Auglaize10873147
Crawford10432178
Shelby10402160
Brown10094145
Highland9746151
Fulton9726154
Guernsey9683122
Defiance9567137
Logan9470147
Clinton9428132
Mercer9099112
Madison9032111
Preble8524170
Williams8305138
Putnam8069136
Champaign8040113
Ottawa7971123
Jackson7848121
Perry7514102
Coshocton7411136
Morrow729184
Fayette715992
Pike666689
Hardin6564133
Gallia638891
Adams6227127
Van Wert6065121
Henry602596
Hocking5918105
Wyandot503594
Carroll5009101
Holmes4880167
Paulding426465
Meigs400974
Monroe316468
Harrison299162
Noble296952
Morgan292748
Vinton258646
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