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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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.”

 

 

 

 

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]