Fox News host Sean Hannity has been revealed as the mystery third client of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.
A judge ruled that the president’s personal attorney must reveal the link to Sean Hannity.
April 16 hearing in NYC follows an FBI raid this month on Michael Cohen’s home and office, which Sean Hannity has called an anti-Trump “witch hunt”.
A vocal Trump advocate, Sean Hannity denied he was a client of Michael Cohen.
Sean Hannity, who is known for passionately defending Donald Trump on his Fox News show against what he describes as biased attacks by the media, had never previously divulged any legal ties to the president’s attorney.
FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen’s home and evidence were looking for evidence on various matters, including a $130,000 payment made to actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump and was paid “hush money”.
During April 16 hearing, the judge deny Michael Cohen’s attempts to prevent prosecutors from reviewing the materials seized in the FBI raids.
President Trump’s attorney says the computers, phones and documents should be protected under attorney-client privilege.
However, Judge Kimba Wood ruled his application for a preliminary injunction was premature.
She allowed prosecutors to proceed with the cataloguing of evidence seized in the raids while a system is set up to ensure that records protected by attorney-client privilege are not disclosed to investigators.
However, the judge will also consider appointing a “special master” to play a supervisory role in the process.
Just before hearing, Michael Cohen said in a statement that he had only provided advice to three clients in the past year.
One was Donald Trump. Another was a Republican fundraiser who admitted to paying a former Playboy model after she became pregnant during their affair.
The third client, Michael Cohen said, had refused to give him permission to be publicly named.
However, Judge Wood made one of the lawyers identify Sean Hannity.
There were gasps and some laughter in the courtroom after the announcement, and some journalists raced out of the courtroom to report the revelation.
Sean Hannity responded on Twitter: “In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding.”
He later issued a statement of denial, saying: “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter.
“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.
“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”
After last week’s raid on Michael Cohen’s offices, Sean Hannity took to the airwaves to denounce the probe as a “declared war against the president of the United States”.
Also in the Manhattan federal court was Stormy Daniels, whose appearance triggered a scrum by photographers outside.
Michael Cohen has admitted making a payment to Stormy Daniel, who claims the money was to keep her quiet about an affair she says she had with Donald Trump in 2006.
The president’s attorney says he made the payment just before the 2016 election, but maintains Donald Trump did not know about it.
Michael Cohen is facing a criminal inquiry, which President Trump has strongly criticized.
According to legal analysts, the payoff to Stormy Daniels could amount to a campaign finance violation.
The White House has denied President Trump had an extramarital affair.