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Enjoying the new “attorney-client privilege”

Fox’s Sean Hannity opens a Pandora’s can of worms

Jeffrey Denny

Tracking the discussion over the surprise revelation of Fox News personality Sean Hannity’s connection with Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is like trying to follow a David Lynch movie.

You’re not exactly sure what’s going on — it’s a bewildering, disorienting hall of mirrors — but it’s creepy and weird people are doing bad stuff.

I’m amused that Cohen’s lawyer said Hannity didn’t want his name revealed as a client. It would be embarrassing. But when the judge insisted, and Hannity got outed faster than a Southern Republican politician who fulminates against gay marriage, suddenly he’s not so embarrassed. The revelation is a big nothing-burger. Nothing to see here. Just an obsession of the liberal mainstream media that hates Trump, America, God, guns and freedom.

Embarrassing if revealed today; nothing of note tomorrow. Huh. Gotta remember that if I ever get tangled up in dissembling and hypocrisy.

The only question really is which of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell is putting Cohen’s three major clients and their defenders on a special guest list. (The third client being GOP official and funder Elliott Broidy, for whom Cohen arranged a $1.6 million settlement with a former Playboy model that Broidy had impregnated while he was married).

For Cohen and his select clientele, Dante’s Ninth Circle (treachery) may be too harsh. We’ll see. My money’s on the Eighth (fraud), reserved for panderers, seducers, flatterers, false prophets, corrupt politicians, hypocrites, evil counselors and advisers, divisive individuals and various falsifiers including perjurers.

Hannity insists — with giveaway high dudgeon and studied straight face — he was never Cohen’s “client” and Cohen was never his “attorney”. But he still paid Cohen for “legal input and perspective” and demanded attorney-client privilege. How does that work?

Hannity’s “brand” is calling out hypocrisy and telling it like it is. Observing his hair-splitting double-talk and desperate dissembling, I feel like the old Saturday Night Live/Phil Hartman “Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer” character delivering closing arguments:

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“I’m just an unfrozen caveman. Your world frightens and confuses me. My primitive mind can’t grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know, Mr. Hannity: You are full of shit.”

***

But amid the Trump and Co. hell-bound fraud and treachery, there’s a ray from heaven:

Now we can all use “attorney-client privilege” whenever we’re in a jam.

Hannity’s attorney-client privilege is the new Monopoly get-out-of-jail-free card, the wag-the-dog missile launch to change the political narrative, the Star Trek beam-me-up Scotty all-purpose teleportation escape.

I have many wonderful friends who are lawyers. I’ve dated a few lawyers and even once married one. (Key takeaway from that: Some lawyers love to argue for the sake of arguing and never, no never, can be wrong.)

But lawyers are now my new besties who I want around me all the time. Because no matter what I do, no matter what happens, no matter how I screw up, if lawyers are in the vicinity and I slip them a nickel, then I’m completely protected by attorney-client privilege.

The possibilities are myriad. For instance:

· I play tennis with a buddy who’s a lawyer. I regularly filch fresh cans of tennis balls from the pro shop while we’re checking in for our court. Whatever I did, whatever he saw, it never happened.

· I cheat on my girlfriend with a woman who went to Harvard Law and passed the bar fourth try, but doesn’t practice law per se. Her Midwest middle-income parents who mortgaged their home and spent their retirement savings to fund her undergraduate “journey” and law school degree are miffed that instead of becoming a lawyer as she said she dreamed, she is writing a memoir that agents are shopping about how terrible her parents and childhood were. My girlfriend finds out about my affair and confronts me. But she can’t use any of her evidence against me since the other woman at least technically is a lawyer. Case closed.

· I host a lavish dinner for 10 at a famous James Beard-award restaurant. We have delicious pre-dinner cocktails with handmade small-batch liquor, a truly amusing round of amuse-bouche, fresh-harvested lobster flown in from Maine that very day, dry-aged grass-fed porterhouse steaks carved from local beloved steer and grilled to perfection, too many bottles of fine wine at $250+ per, and a wealth of complex desserts completely to die for. Total bill: $24,412, excluding tip. I make sure one of our fellow diners is a lawyer. I skip the whole bill. American Express says membership has its privileges but it’s nothing like attorney-client privilege!

· I bet billions of other people’s money on sketchy subprime mortgage securities and collateralized debt obligations and cause the financial system to nearly crash, throwing millions of innocent middle-class Americans out of work and their homes, ruining their lives. But an associate general counsel once walked by the trading floor to get coffee because the Nespresso on his floor was broken. That makes me free and clear, and I’m looking forward to summering at my third home in the Hamptons featured in Town and Country.

· I drive my 600 horsepower, $200,000 Lamborghini Huracán well above the speed limit while sipping espresso from a tiny Villeroy & Boch Old Luxembourg cup and saucer while texting my friends — always one a lawyer — with hilarious burns, gifs and memes. If this isn’t the definition of “no worries” then what is?

With his redefinition of attorney-client privilege that can save all our souls, at least legalistically, perhaps Sean Hannity doesn’t deserve hell but is a saint?

Sure, Hannity is America’s #1 purveyor of right-wing political falsehoods and conspiracy theories, chief tailor for the emperor without clothes, and today’s P.T. Barnum for the suckers born every minute.

And sure, Hannity is a puppet mouthpiece for the failing Trump administration. Trump has his tiny hands so far up Hannity’s alimentary system he can floss the broadcaster’s molars.

But Hannity also shows that with a lawyer nigh, we can all find true freedom as our Founding Fathers intended.

Bless you, Sir Sean.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer

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