Somehow, it is supposed to be a scandal that Sean Hannity asked Michael Cohen for advice on real estate law
President Trump's tweet that "attorney-client confidentiality is dead" was doubly accurate. I concede that Judge Kimba Wood has a law degree and many years of experience and I don't, but I am still stunned by her cavalier disregard for the protections of lawyer-client confidentiality. She refused a request by President Trump and Michael Cohen's lawyers to be the first to review documents seized from the lawyer's office and homes:
While Judge Wood did not formally rule on which side should get the initial look and said that discussions would continue, she added that she trusted the prosecutors.
"I have faith in the Southern District U.S. attorney's office that their integrity is unimpeachable," Judge Wood said.
Excuse me, Judge Wood, but our constitutional protections are not founded on the "unimpeachable integrity" of government officials. The Founders designed a system in which checks and balances, not the virtue of our rulers, protect us. Has the expression "rogue prosecutor" never crossed her lips?
Another person whose privacy was shredded by Judge Wood is Sean Hannity. Right there, on the front page of the New York Times and constantly on CNN and MSNBC, is the supposedly shocking news that Michael Cohen named Sean Hannity when forced to name all of his clients in open court by Judge Kimba Wood. More shocking to me is that a federal judge would so casually force disclosure of any lawyer's client list, which is not, in my understanding, a matter of public record. But Judge Wood, who named no legal reasoning for her ruling, must have some basis in law...one would hope. The question now is moot, since the horse is out of the barn, but the ruling strikes me as wrong-headed.
Hannity has responded in somewhat contradictory statements, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
In a text message Monday, Mr. Hannity said he and Mr. Cohen "have been friends a long time."
In a separate statement Monday, Mr. Hannity said Mr. Cohen "has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees." While the two have had "brief discussions" about legal matters, he said, those talks "never involved any matter between me and a third-party."
Speaking on his radio show Monday, Mr. Hannity said he hadn't paid Mr. Cohen legal fees but that "I might have handed him 10 bucks" and asked for attorney-privilege on certain issues.
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?"
On his Fox News show last night, Hannity added: "My questions focused almost exclusively on real estate."
To be clear, Hannity has never claimed to be a journalist, and in fact, he vehemently rejects that label. He does opinions and is very open about his preferences. Fox News had made clear that its prime-time lineup is opinion-based, as opposed to the news-based hours during the day. So all the huffing and puffing about "journalistic ethics" (insert joke about oxymoron here) may be misplaced.