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Sean Hannity is the client whose identity Michael Cohen wanted kept secret

Trump lawyer also represented Sean Hannity
Trump lawyer also represented Sean Hannity 04:19

President Trump's personal attorney has been forced to reveal that one of his clients is Fox News host Sean Hannity, CBS News' Jeff Pegues confirmed Monday. Lawyers for Michael Cohen argued in court on Monday that they could not identify Hannity because he asked that his name not be disclosed in connection with an FBI seizure of Cohen's files. But Judge Kimba Wood made one of the lawyers identify him in open court.

After Wood demanded Cohen's team reveal the name of the client, an audible gasp went out in the courtroom when Hannity's name was announced, Pegues said. 

Hannity was recording his radio show at the time of the relevation. He denied it on the show, saying Cohen never represented him. He tweeted later that "in response to the wild speculation," he "did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding." He wrote that his discussions with Cohen "dealt almost exclusively about real estate."

On his show Monday night, one of Hannity's guests, Alan Dershowitz, told Hannity he "really thinks you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show."

At the very end of the show, Hannity said he had "occasional, brief conversations" with Cohen, but they were about real estate. He repeated that he never asked Cohen to bring the proceeding to keep his name secret on his behalf, and he said "I have no interest in this raid." 

The hearing in a New York City courtroom stems from a surprise raid this month on Cohen's home and office.

The search sought information on a variety of matters, including a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had sex with a married Trump in 2006. Daniels was in the courtroom on Monday for the arguments, appearing with her attorney Michael Avenatti.

After the hearing's conclusion, Avenatti called Mr. Trump "radioactive."

"The disclosure relating to sean hannity proved my point exactly. He is radioactive," Avenatti told reporters Monday, adding that he believes "there is significant danger to the president" given that he "trusted Mr. Cohen as his fixer for years."

Cohen only had three clients for whom Cohen's work involved direct legal advice or dispute resolution. In a letter filed with the court last Monday, Cohen's lawyers said that Cohen had a solo law practice and had at least 10 clients during this time. For seven, the letter said, the work "appears to be providing strategic advice and business consulting, for which privilege would not attach." And none of those seven files were likely to have information relevant to what was being sought by the search warrant, his lawyers note.

But, for at least those three other clients, during 2017-2018, Cohen was performing "more traditional legal tasks," the letter said. All three are individuals. One is Donald Trump. The second is Elliot Brody, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, hired Cohen to negotiate $1.6 million in payments to a former Playboy model who said Broidy had impregnated her.  Cohen's lawyers then wrote of Hannity, "The third legal client directed Mr. Cohen not to reveal the identity publicly." 

Here's the text of that letter:

Prosecutors are arguing that the documents and electronics seized from Cohen's office and home should not be protected by attorney-client privilege.

Hannity addressed the revelation of his name in court, telling listeners on his radio show on Monday that Cohen "never represented me in any matter" and that he occasionally sought Cohen's advice on legal matters. 

"I never retained him in the traditional sense as retaining a lawyer, I never received an invoice from Michael, I never paid legal fees to Michael, but I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective."

Hannity said he assumed the conversations between himself and Cohen were "attorney-client confidential" but made clear on his show "not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever involved a matter between me and any third party."

The conservative show host later added in a pair of tweets that he "did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf," and said that his discussions with Cohen "dealt almost exclusively about real estate.

Jeff Pegues and Clare Hymes contributed to this report. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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