The Slatest

Hannity Responds to Being Named as a Client of Michael Cohen

Fox News host Sean Hannity is seen in the White House briefing room in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2017. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Fox News host Sean Hannity is seen in the White House briefing room in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2017. NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

Update, 10:15 p.m.: On his Fox News show Monday night, Sean Hannity addressed the surfacing of his name as a client of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Lawyer Alan Dershowitz, unsolicited, broached the subject early in the show, mildly chiding Hannity for not disclosing his relationship with Cohen.

Dershowitz: 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. 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. 

Hannity: If you understand the nature of it, professor, I’m going to deal with that later in the show. It was minimal. I put out a statement about it.

Dershowitz: You should have said that. That would have been fair to say. It would have been fair to say that it was minimal. You were in a tough position. You had to talk about Cohen and you didn’t want the fact that you had spoken to him to be revealed. You had the right, by the way, not to have your identity revealed.

Hannity: I have the right to privacy. I do.

Dershowitz: It’s a complex situation when you are speaking to millions of people – 

Hannity: Professor, it was such a minor relationship in terms of it had to do with real estate and nothing political.

Dershowitz: I understand that. 

Later in the show, Hannity made light of his failure to disclose his relationship with Cohen, jokingly acknowledging that guest and author David Limbaugh is his lawyer and maybe guest Lanny Davis is too? “Full disclosure, David has been my career attorney and has authorized every contract for radio and TV,” Hannity said. “Lanny, I think I once gave you in a restaurant $5. Lanny, we have attorney-client privilege, isn’t that true?”

Finally, Hannity kinda sorta addressed his relationship with Cohen.

Original Post: Journalists hurriedly tuning into Sean Hannity’s radio show for reaction to the news Monday afternoon that he was Michael Cohen’s third client were treated, at first, to a lot of canned rock music and dead air. Eventually, Hannity turned up for some meta-commentary:

It’s very strange to have my own television network having my name up as a lower third in terms of it being a story. There’s a part of me that really wants to build this up into something massive and make the media go nuts. I had no idea all these media people liked me so much. And now they have to listen to the program. Maybe I should pay it off in the last hour or in the last minute of TV tonight. But I think this is, um – I actually think it’s pretty funny.

After some more music and clips from George Stephanopoulos’ interview with James Comey—evidently the intended subject of the broadcast—Hannity returned to address Cohen more directly:

So, New York today had a big, big hearing. Stormy Daniels was in there, Stormy Daniels’ attorney was in there, and I guess that Michael Cohen had to list the people that he’s done some work with – whatever, I don’t know what the full thing was that actually went on there. So, I’ve known Michael a long, long time. And let me be very clear to the media: Michael never represented me in any matter. 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. And I assume those conversations were attorney-client confidential. But the other thing I will need to point out to the media that is apparently going insane over this– not one of any issue I ever dealt with Michael Cohen on ever involved a matter between me and any third party. Now I have, eight attorneys I use for various things in my life, and in this particular case, you know, I like to have people that I can run questions by. And Michael, very generously, would give me his time, and we’d always say, “Attorney-client? Yeah, good.” And I’d ask him a legal question. And that’s it. And… I don’t think this is that complicated. How did this blow up to be such a big deal? I never had any case with him that involved any third party.

Hannity went on to explicitly deny that Cohen handled settlements for him—”No, that’s not what happened. Ever.”—and repeated that he’d never paid Cohen any fees, immediately before stating that he might have given Cohen money on occasion. “Never paid any fees,” he said. “I might have handed him ten bucks, ‘I definitely want attorney-client privilege on this.’ Something like that.”

On Twitter during the show, Hannity wrote a statement that repeated his commentary on-air almost verbatim and said that his discussions with Michael Cohen had been “almost exclusively” about real estate.