Apr 17, 2018

The Sean Hannity collision

A screengrab from "Hannity" on Fox News last night. Screenshot: Fox News

Axios is about collisions — how the worlds of business, tech, media and politics are increasingly and inextricably intertwined. It's hard to imagine a more emblematic, evocative collision than the revelation in court yesterday that Fox News star Sean Hannity — Trump adviser, kibitzer and cheerleader — was an undisclosed client of Michael Cohen's.

The state of play: This week is already so crazy that MSNBC's Brian Williams last night began an interview with a guest on "The 11th Hour": "Comey. Cohen. Hannity. Trump. Start anywhere you want."

Hannity's relevance, if any, to the feds' interest in Cohen is unknown. Here's what happened, per The Times:

  • "In court papers filed before the hearing, Mr. Cohen’s lawyers had said that he had represented three clients on legal matters in the last few years.
  • "Two of them, the lawyers said, were Mr. Trump and a Republican donor, Elliott Broidy, who recently resigned" as RNC deputy finance chair over a $1.6 million payment Cohen helped arrange to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.
  • "The lawyers refused to name the third client, suggesting he did not want to be associated with Mr. Cohen at this point — until, that is, Judge Wood forced them to identify him as Mr. Hannity."

What Hannity said on his Fox show last night (video):

  • "[T]he media went absolutely insane — wall-to-wall, hour-by-hour coverage of yours truly.” [Plays video montage.]
  • "Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter. I never retained his services, I never received an invoice, I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees."
  • "I did have occasional brief conversations with Michael Cohen — he’s a great attorney — about legal questions I had where I was looking for input and perspective."
  • "My discussions with Michael Cohen never rose to any level that I needed to tell anyone that I was asking him questions."
  • "My questions exclusively almost focused on real estate. I have said many times on air, I hate the stock market — I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate."

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