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Analysis

Hannity claimed to know something about Trump’s hush-money payment and may now be called to testify

The Fox News host could be subpoenaed as one of Michael Cohen’s former clients.

CREDIT: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
CREDIT: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

During an exclusive interview with President Donald Trump Thursday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity opened himself up to the possibility of being subpoenaed in connection to Trump’s hush-money payments to various women with whom he allegedly had affairs.

Hannity and Trump were discussing Wednesday’s testimony by Michael Cohen in which the president’s former fixer testified that Trump had personally arranged the payments. Cohen provided personal checks as proof.

Hannity noted that he had been “dragged into the Michael Cohen issue” because Cohen named him as one of his clients. “He was never my attorney,” Hannity reiterated.

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Then, to assure the president that he agreed that Cohen had lied about the payments, Hannity added, “I can tell you personally: He said to me at least dozen times that he made the decision on the payments and he didn’t tell you. He told me that personally.”

“Yeah, well, he did,” Trump said. “He made the decision.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) noticed Hannity’s claim and suggested it should be repeated under oath:

Incidentally, Trump and Hannity’s conversation proceeded to a discussion of attorney-client privilege, at which point Hannity began to undermine his claim he was never Cohen’s client.

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Last April, when Cohen’s attorney first announced in court that Hannity was on Cohen’s client list, the Fox News host was quick to insist that this was not the case — that while he had spoken to Cohen privately about some legal questions, he nevertheless insisted, “Michael never represented me in any matter.”

Despite these earlier protestations, Hannity repeatedly expressed his belief on Thursday night that his conversations with Cohen were protected by attorney-client privilege, even saying at one point, “I might have handed him 10 bucks, ‘I definitely want your attorney client privilege on this,’ something like that.”

As the Washington Post’s Phillip Bump laid out at the time, “You can’t have attorney-client privilege without being a client.”

In this way, Hannity has opened himself up to being subpoenaed about these hush payments, and ultimately may be compelled to reveal additional details about the extent of his relationship with Cohen under oath.

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Naturally, Hannity is free to make just about whatever claim he’d like on his television show, but in a court of law or before Congress, he could face criminal charges for lying.

In other words, Sean Hannity may have built his own perjury trap.