A legal fight over what should happen to records the FBI seized from President Donald Trump's personal attorney took a surprise twist today when the lawyer, Michael Cohen, was forced to reveal in court that he had also secretly done legal work for Fox News host Sean Hannity.
The disclosure came as Cohen's attorneys 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 Friday and again overnight that if 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 overnight, Cohen's attorneys said three people received legal help from Cohen in 2017 and 2018, after Trump became president.
One was 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 US$1.6 million to 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, 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."
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 Hannity was not immediately returned.
The hearing is ongoing.