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Saturday, October 20, 2018

For Sean Hannity, it was an embarrassing day down in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court — but it was an electrifying moment for America when we learned that the Fox News personality is the “third client” of Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and fixer.

The occasion was a hearing before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood on Cohen’s effort to prevent federal prosecutors from examining the documents, digital recordings, and other materials seized from his office and hotel suite during an FBI raid last week. He is reportedly under investigation for fraud and other crimes.

Indeed, Cohen’s court appearance was especially embarrassing for Hannity because the two known clients in his dubious law practice are the president and a Republican businessman named Elliot Broidy — both of whom apparently employed his services to pay off and silence women with whom they had engaged in illicit relationships. (Broidy paid off a Playboy model before she underwent an abortion.)

Nor was this a happy time for the right-wing cable network. As Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, Hannity’s colleague and sometime antagonist, said on air: “For us, the elephant in the room is that Sean Hannity is said to have been a third client of Michael Cohen. Hannity’s producers are working to contact him…We’ll report on it when we know the rest of it.”

Perhaps these circumstances reveal the reason for Hannity’s abject boot-licking and butt-kissing of the president — and his irrepressible urge to stand up for Cohen.

Following the FBI raid of Cohen’s hotel suite and office last week, Hannity bitterly criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller, saying “it seems that there’s no limit at all into the fishing expedition that Mueller is now engaged in and if he has access to everything that his personal attorney has, I can only imagine where that’s going to lead.” He didn’t bother to tell his viewers that Cohen is also his own personal attorney. (According to Vanity Fair reporter Gabriel Sherman, Hannity may have hired Cohen to fight an effort by Media Matters to mount an advertiser boycott of his show.)

Imitating his idol, Hannity tweeted a response:

“Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. 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.

“I assumed those conversations [with Cohen] were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”

So much for attorney-client privilege; if he’s not your attorney, after all, there is no privilege. Perhaps we will all learn the real story when Sean goes on air  — although given his track record of transparency, that somehow seems unlikely.

UPDATE: On his show Monday night, Hannity tried to brush off the controversy — and his own malfeasance — but one guest refused to let him do so. Attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is nearly as much a fan of Trump as the Fox host, insisted that he ought to have disclosed his relationship with Cohen to his viewers

“First of all, Sean, I want to say that I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show,” the  Harvard law professor scolded. “You could have said that you had asked him for advice or whatever. But I think it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that relationship.”

In Hannity’s view, he was entitled to “privacy,” and he blamed critics for exposing his conflict: “Predictably, without knowing all or any of the facts, the media went absolutely insane, wall-to-wall, hour-by-hour coverage of yours truly.”