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Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime lawyer who is under criminal investigation for his business dealings, counts conservative talk show host and unabashed Trump supporter Sean Hannity as one of his three legal clients.
The revelation came Monday during a hearing in a federal court in New York during which lawyers for Cohen and Trump sought to persuade a judge to allow them to review documents and records FBI agents seized from Cohen's office, home and hotel room last week as part of an investigation of Cohen's business dealings and finances.
Lawyers for Cohen initially disclosed that Cohen represented Trump, GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and a third client who wished to remain anonymous. But judge Kimba Wood of the federal court for the southern district of New York ruled that the lawyers must disclose Hannity's name.
Hannity, who repeatedly bashed the FBI on his Fox News show for raiding Cohen's office, drew immediate fire for failing to disclose his relationship with Cohen. But Hannity denied he was a client of Cohen's.
"Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter," Hannity tweeted. "I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.
Cohen's lawyers, however, offered a different account. In a letter to Wood, they wrote that Cohen has had at least 10 clients in the past year, seven of whom received "strategic advice and business consulting" from Cohen.
For his three other clients —Trump, Hannity and Broidy — Cohen provided "direct legal advice or dispute resolution — more traditional legal tasks," the lawyers wrote.
The seizure of the documents from Cohen last week ignited Trump's fury, leading him to tweet that "attorney-client privilege is dead."
To avoid seeing privileged communications between an attorney and a client, prosecutors typically set up a special "taint team" or "privilege team" to filter documents that are subject to attorney-client privilege.
Judge Wood said that while a taint team may be a "viable option," a "special master" or an independent attorney, as called for by Cohen's lawyers, may "have a role here."
She asked both parties to propose names for a special master.