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Federal judge weighs outside review of Cohen records

Michael Cohen named three clients: Donald Trump, ex-RNC official Elliot Broidy, and Fox TV’s Sean Hannity.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Michael Cohen named three clients: Donald Trump, ex-RNC official Elliot Broidy, and Fox TV’s Sean Hannity.

NEW YORK — A legal fight over what should happen to records the FBI seized from President Trump’s personal attorney took a stunning twist Monday when the lawyer, Michael Cohen, was forced to reveal a secret — he had also done legal work for Fox News host Sean Hannity.

The disclosure came as a New York judge disappointed a lawyer for Trump by letting prosecutors proceed with the cataloguing of evidence, including multiple electronic devices that were seized in raids, while a system is set up to ensure that records protected by attorney-client privilege aren’t disclosed to investigators.

Hannity played down the relationship, saying he occasionally asked Cohen legal questions but never paid him. But the connection between the two men inserted another high-profile, polarizing Trump ally into the drama surrounding the criminal investigation of the president’s longtime lawyer.

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Lawyers for Cohen and prosecutors both had reason to claim success after three hours of arguments before US District Judge Kimba Wood, who said she may appoint a special master, a neutral lawyer, to help decide which materials should stay confidential.

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Wood denied a request by Trump’s lawyer, Joanna Hendon, that the president and Cohen get the first crack at designating which documents should be off-limits to investigators.

Hannity’s name emerged after the judge pressed Cohen to divulge the names of the clients he’s worked with since the 2016 election, whose privileged communications might be contained within his files.

Cohen’s legal team said he had just three clients in 2017 and 2018.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.