Monday, April 16, 2018
NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen has revealed he’s representing two other clients besides the commander in chief — including Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Hannity’s name was revealed Monday by Cohen’s lawyer during a Manhattan Federal Court hearing. Cohen and his legal team had tried to withhold Hannity’s name — and only referred to him as unnamed client in a federal court filing they made earlier in the day.
But Federal Judge Kimba Wood ordered Cohen’s lawyers to reveal the conservative commentator’s name during the hearing.
In the earlier filing Monday, Cohen disclosed that he has given legal advice to three clients in 2017 and this year: Trump, Elliott Broidy and a third party who didn’t want to be identified.
Before the revelation, Cohen’s lawyer Steve Ryan told Wood on Monday that the mystery client is a “publicly prominent individual.”
“I’m trying to protect the privacy of that individual, your honor,” said Ryan, noting that he would provide the name to the court if done under seal.
Broidy, a major GOP donor, resigned as the Republican National Committee’s deputy finance chair last week after it emerged he had paid $1.6 million to a Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair. Cohen arranged the deal.
The new information comes as Cohen asks the court to appoint a third party, known as a “special master,” to “protect the integrity of the Government’s investigation from the toxic partisan politics of the day” involving the cache of documents scooped up in an FBI raid of Cohen’s hotel room, home and law office last week.
Wood is expected to preside over a hearing that’ll focus on Cohen and Trump’s effort to review the seized documents before the feds take a look.
Federal prosecutors argue they have a team dedicated to determining which of Cohen’s communications are privileged, and that it will then pass relevant material to prosecutors in the Public Corruption Unit.
Prosecutors are reportedly investigating potential bank fraud and campaign finance law violations by Cohen. They revealed last week Cohen has been under investigation for months and that prosecutors have been secretly reading his emails.
Porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, is expected to attend. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, believes some of the materials seized by the FBI may relate to $130,000 in hush money Cohen paid Daniels in the lead up to the 2016 election.
In the new filing, Cohen says he was the subject of “the most highly publicized search warrant in the history of recent American criminal jurisprudence.”
He argues the appointment of a “special master” to review the documents seized by the FBI would establish the “appearance of fairness.”
“A clear sign of impartiality is particularly important in this hyperpartisan era,” he argues.
“As the Court is surely aware, there is a growing public debate about whether criminal and congressional investigations by the government are being undertaken impartially, free of any political bias or partisan motivation. It is in this climate that the Government executed an unprecedented search warrant — instead of using its less onerous subpoena power — upon the personal attorney of the President of the United States,” Cohen’s attorney Todd Harrison writes.
“The appointment of a Special Master will protect the integrity of the Government’s investigation from the toxic partisan politics of the day and attacks on the impartiality of the Justice Department and the (U.S. Attorney’s Office).”
On Sunday evening, Trump’s lawyer Joanna Hendon brought a similar argument.
“In the highly politicized, even fevered atmosphere that envelops this matter, it is simply unreasonable to expect that a team of prosecutors, even if not directly involved in the separate investigation of Mr. Cohen, could perform a privilege review in the manner necessary to safeguard the important interests of the President,” Hendon wrote.
Prosecutors countered that the request would set a bad precedent for future criminal investigations. Trump and Cohen’s arguments were essentially the same, they noted.
“Despite advancing the extreme position that he should review the lawfully obtained files in the first instance, the President still cannot identify a single case in which a court has ordered such a remedy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom McKay wrote.
The extraordinary request means Trump seeks to block his own Justice Department from proceeding with a criminal investigation of Cohen.
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