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Sean Hannity news is a real problem for Michael Cohen

Fox host Sean Hannity just helped the government's case against President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael C...

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 10:27 AM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 10:27 AM

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.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3055568

Reported Deaths: 34441
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles103280614122
San Bernardino2561091560
Riverside2504362645
San Diego2168352109
Orange2148082477
Santa Clara943661109
Kern86718565
Fresno82485968
Sacramento806781111
Alameda67952765
Ventura62101436
San Joaquin58290786
Contra Costa52965450
Stanislaus42882758
Tulare41867506
Monterey36126255
San Mateo32596309
San Francisco29321262
Solano25806106
Imperial25317465
Santa Barbara25083236
Merced24452308
Sonoma24068240
Kings19435145
Placer17380180
San Luis Obispo15929136
Madera13443151
Santa Cruz12298113
Marin11693157
Yolo10620131
Shasta9776122
Butte9474123
El Dorado782644
Sutter775478
Napa760140
Lassen519516
San Benito496343
Yuba495127
Tehama397142
Tuolumne338240
Nevada320673
Mendocino311432
Amador301631
Lake261230
Humboldt239324
Glenn193519
Colusa17339
Calaveras161723
Siskiyou144613
Mono11214
Inyo97429
Del Norte8662
Plumas5895
Modoc3853
Mariposa3464
Trinity3024
Sierra820
Alpine730
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Chico
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As expected, we had much quieter weather around northern California on Wednesday with plenty of sunshine, much weaker wind, and a wide range of temperatures. Thursday will be similar, but much more active weather is coming.
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