A legal fight over records the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s lawyer took a surprise twist when Michael Cohen was forced to reveal in court that he had also secretly worked for Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The disclosure came as Mr Cohen’s lawyers tried to persuade a federal judge in New York to delay prosecutors from examining records and electronic devices seized in the raids on the grounds that many of them are protected by attorney-client privilege.
US District Judge Kimba Wood said in hearings on Friday and again on Monday that if Mr Cohen wanted the court to declare that the some of his files were protected because of attorney confidentiality rules, he would have to divulge the names of his clients.
In a court filing on Monday, Mr Cohen’s attorneys said three people received legal help from Mr Cohen in 2017 and 2018, after Mr Trump became president.
One was Mr Trump himself. Another was Elliot Broidy, a Trump fundraiser who resigned from the Republican National Committee on Friday after it was revealed that he paid a Playboy Playmate with whom he had an extramarital affair. The Playmate became pregnant and elected to have an abortion.
But they initially declined to reveal the name of the third client.
The third legal client directed Mr Cohen not to reveal the identity publicly, Mr Cohen’s lawyers, Todd Harrison and Stephen Ryan, wrote.
“It almost goes without saying, unfortunately, that none of Mr Cohen’s clients want to be associated with the government raid on his home and law office, or want to be affiliated in any way with the proceedings here and the attendant media coverage.”
Judge Wood, though, demanded the name.
“I understand he doesn’t want his name out there, but that’s not enough under the law,” she said.
An email sent to Fox News seeking comment from Mr Hannity was not immediately returned.
The hearing was ongoing on Monday afternoon.
It began with an appearance by porn actress Stormy Daniels, who was swarmed by photographers and nearly fell as she was hustled into the courthouse, a scene that captured the sensational atmosphere around a legal fight involving the president and an FBI investigation into his personal lawyer.
The April 9 raid on Mr Cohen sought information on a variety of matters, including a payment made to Ms Daniels, who alleges she had sex with the president in 2006.