Who was client number 3?
The mystery began early Monday when lawyers for presidential attorney Michael Cohen revealed on the eve of a hearing on seizure of his files that he had represented only three people since 2017 — President Donald Trump, GOP donor Elliott Broidy and an “unnamed client.”
“Unnamed client” wanted to avoid the “embarrassment” of being associated with a lawyer who was the subject of a criminal probe, Cohen’s lawyers said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who had pressed for client names to evaluate Cohen’s privilege claims.
But a few hours later in court, as a media lawyer pushed Wood to refuse to take the name under seal, the judge rejected privacy claims from Cohen’s lawyer. “I understand he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough under the law,” she said.
Finally, she demanded an answer. “I’m directing you to disclose the name right now,” she told Cohen lawyer Stephen Ryan.
Ryan asked whether he should give her a piece of paper with the name or say it out loud, and then blurted it out — “Sean Hannity,” the conservative Fox News commentator who has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders and one of special counsel Robert Mueller’s fiercest critics.
Cohen, sitting next to Ryan, was impassive, but the name prompted an immediate reaction in court — a wave of chuckles rolling through the spectator gallery, and a few reporters dashing to the exit to alert their editors about the news.
Exactly what legal matters Cohen handled for the president’s media champion was not disclosed, and Hannity wasn’t very informative about it on his radio show later Monday, saying it was “no big deal.”
“Michael never represented me in any matter,” Hannity said. “I never retained him in any traditional sense. I never received an invoice. I never paid a legal fee. I had brief discussions with him about legal questions where I wanted his input and perspective.”