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Axios Apr 17
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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."

Mike Pompeo’s first foreign trip

Mike Pompeo
CIA Director Mike Pompeo testifies on worldwide threats. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

If he is confirmed as Secretary of State tomorrow, Mike Pompeo will embark on his first foreign trip as secretary to Brussels for the NATO Summit, Axios has learned. Bloomberg first reported the contingency planning for the potential trip.

The details: “The acting secretary John Sullivan is ready to go to the NATO summit in Brussels Thursday,” a senior administration official told Axios. “The secretary-designate Mike Pompeo is prepared to travel to the meeting of foreign ministers to reaffirm our commitment to NATO and coordinate the alliance’s response to Russian aggression.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the latest developments.

Haley Britzky 7 hours ago
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Cohen is pleading the Fifth in Stormy Daniels case

Michael Cohen walking next to photographers.
Michael Cohen. Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Michael Cohen is excersising his Fifth Amendment rights regarding his role in the payoff of former porn star Stormy Daniels, according to court papers he filed on Wednesday, CNN reports.

What they're saying: Cohen wrote in the filing that "[b]ased upon the advice of counsel, I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York." Trump has previously said, "If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"