Federal Judge Kimba Wood once was considered for attorney general by then-President Bill Clinton — and she even officiated the wedding of left-wing billionaire George Soros.
There was no reason in the world that it was necessary for federal Judge Kimba Wood to demand the release of Sean Hannity’s name in connection with the legal proceedings going on with Trump lawyer Roy Cohen, no reason at all unless you want to try to embarrass Hannity, humiliate Hannity, oust Hannity or discredit him. This is not SOP. It’s just not done, folks. It is mean spirited and once again illuminates the fact that the Left will do anything, ANYTHING, to destroy their opposition.
Why would Judge Kimba Wood do this? Plain and simple, she is a card-carrying Leftie. Wood once was considered for attorney general by then-President Bill Clinton — and she even officiated the wedding of left-wing billionaire George Soros.
The Left went after Bill O’Reilly and forced him off the air. They have previously gone after Hannity orchestrating a sponsor boycott. Recently they have pulled the same tactics against Laura Ingraham trying to force her off the air. Have you heard of an organized Conservative effort to out Rachel Maddow and force her off the air or any of the idiots over at CNN?
One thing that Republicans need to learn. The Left does not want to debate you. They don’t want to compromise with you. They will not enter into any kind of bipartisan agreement, a meeting of the minds. Nope, The Left wants to DESTROY destroy you. WISE UP!
In the process, they will lie, cheat, slander, make up stories, falsify data and bribe others to give false testimony. They don’t care about long-held traditions, what’s moral or what’s legal. They will do ANYTHING to bury you if you are outspoken against them.
The Left is undemocratic, only playing lip service to a democratic government when the cards are a winning hand for them. Otherwise, they wish for and work for a totalitarian state where they can impose their will on everybody even if they are in a minority.
Right now the Left is garnering American support for a rewrite of the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. Your freedoms arre in peril if you let the Left get away with it, especially manure like this.
That great former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy tells us in National Review:
The A-C privilege exists because we want to encourage people to seek legal advice in resolving disputes, even though discussing one’s problems can entail risk — lost opportunity, embarrassment, incrimination, etc. And while people may assume the worst (or, in the media’s case, report the worst assumptions) when they learn someone has sought legal counsel, it is most often done for mundane, wholly legitimate reasons — a real-estate transaction, drafting a will, setting up a trust account, structuring a business, complying with complex regulatory regimes, and so on.
While A-C communications are privileged, the same cannot be said either for the fact that an A-C relationship exists or for any attendant fee arrangement. Nevertheless, these matters are sensitive.
When, for whatever reason, these matters become relevant to a criminal investigation, the common practice is for prosecutors to issue a grand-jury subpoena, directing the lawyer to identify clients or fee arrangements. Grand-jury proceedings are secret. In this manner, the government can proceed with its investigation but the lawyer’s clients are not publicly embarrassed or slimed with innuendo. Moreover, the client can be given notice and an opportunity to be heard by the court, in order to make any argument he may have against being identified, particularly to the public.
Ultimately, if the target of the investigation is prosecuted and a third-party’s A-C relationship has some bearing on the case, that relationship could eventually become public (in the indictment, the pretrial motions, the trial, or the plea proceedings). But unless and until that happens, a third party’s A-C relationship — which may have utterly no bearing on the matters under criminal investigation — is nobody’s business and should remain confidential.
Regardless of whether he should have outed himself, it was inappropriate for the court to order him outed as a Cohen client. I think the SDNY and Judge Wood will come to regret that things were done this way (certainly, the SDNY wants to continue arguing for confidentiality when it suits the government’s investigative interests). And I’m confident that the media would be reporting with umbrage rather than glee if a liberal commentator were needlessly outed as the client of a lawyer under criminal investigation.
The Outrageous Outing of Sean Hannity, Cont’d
The court’s order that Hannity’s name be disclosed in open court violated longstanding, judicially endorsed standards against identifying uncharged persons in legal proceedings attendant to criminal investigations.
Forget about evidence of wrongdoing. There is not even a suggestion that Hannity is involved in any crimes. He is a longtime friend of Cohen’s. He says they’ve had some informal legal discussions about such matters as real estate — and as any lawyer will tell you, informal discussions with non-lawyer friends are common. Hannity insists, however, that he has never retained Cohen to represent him in any legal matter, and has never paid him or received an invoice from him. There is no public evidence to contradict this, and no suggestion that Cohen has previously represented himself as Hannity’s attorney.
There has been no intimation that Hannity has any pertinent information about the activities for which Cohen is under investigation. His only relevance to the probe involves the question of whether there is a factual basis for Cohen to claim that an attorney-client (A-C) relationship with Hannity should prevent investigators from perusing some materials seized by the FBI from Cohen’s office and residences. And since Hannity is not suspected of wrongdoing, even that question appears to be of little importance.
Consequently, there was no reason for Hannity’s name to be revealed publicly. As I observed yesterday, grand-jury proceedings are secret by law. When prosecutors and agents conducting an investigation seek judicial warrants to search, eavesdrop on, or arrest subjects, it is done in ex parteand in camera, not in public hearings. In short, the public does not have the right to know the names of people – whether or not suspected of wrongdoing – who pop up in a criminal investigation.
Monday’s hearing was public. Whether it needed to be is debatable: The matter is under grand-jury investigation and it involves search warrants; neither of those things entails public proceedings. Yet the issue for the court’s consideration was Cohen’s motion to bar the government from reviewing the materials seized, which he filed publicly. It would probably have been better if Judge Wood had held the hearing under seal; she could later have issued a public decision that explained her ruling on the legal question without disclosing client names or any other factual information related to the investigation that may have arisen. The judge instead elected to proceed publicly, but she still should have limited the open-court discussion to argument about the legal issue, retreating in camera for any discussion of client names.
In any event, the prosecutors could easily have handed Cohen’s attorney, Stephen Ryan, a grand-jury subpoena demanding disclosure of the client identities. That would have required Ryan to reveal the identities to the grand jury, but not to the public. Clearly, the prosecutors and Ryan were aware of this: As The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand tweeted yesterday, Ryan was prepared to surrender the information to the government under seal.
Apparently, Judge Wood was initially disposed to let that happen. Then, however, the judge allowed Robert Balin, an attorney for the New York Times and CNN, to intervene. Balin, the Times reports, argued that potential embarrassment was not a sufficient reason to withhold the purported client’s name from the public. The judge was somehow persuaded by this frivolous contention. Without providing Hannity any notice and opportunity to be heard on the matter, she directed that his name be disclosed in open court.
The flaw in Balin’s argument is patent. It is true that, if the public has a legal right to know a piece of information, the fact that the information is likely to embarrass someone is not sufficient cause to suppress it. But the public has no right to know the names of people who are relevant to an investigation – even if they are suspected of wrongdoing. Furthermore, even when the government arrests someone or formally accuses someone of a crime in an indictment, the names of uncharged persons are not disclosed. (That is why you see such references as “Cooperating Witness No. 1,” “Unindicted Co-conspirator No. 3,” or “Corporation X” in charging documents.)
Though they apparently chose not to remind Judge Wood of this longstanding policy, government lawyers are well aware of it. The United States Attorneys Manual admonishes that “in all public filings and proceedings, federal prosecutors should remain sensitive to the privacy and reputation interests of uncharged third-parties.” Unless a person has been formally charged with a crime, not only should the government avoid publicly naming the person; federal prosecutors are further schooled to avoid even an “unnecessarily-specific description.” In other words, while calling Hannity “Client No. 3” would have been proper, even referring to him as “S.H.” would have transgressed the policy. There is no justification for publicizing his full name.
As the manual elaborates, federal courts have held that there is ordinarily “no legitimate government interest served” by publicly naming an uncharged person. That is the case even when charges against the person are being contemplated; a fortiori, there is no excuse for gratuitously embarrassing someone who is suspected of no wrongdoing.
The investigation of Cohen involves the suppression of information about extramarital affairs between high-profile men and women involved in pornography. Cohen’s work for Trump and Broidy, the only other clients he claims, involves non-disclosure agreements for this purpose. It was inevitable, then, that if the third alleged client was identified publicly, there would instantly be media speculation that this client, too, must be entangled in some tawdry sex scandal that he retained Cohen to hush up.
This is exactly what happened. Surprised while doing his radio show at news that his name had been exposed in court, Hannity, who has been married for 25 years and has two kids, naturally felt the need to beat back the resulting innuendo. When he denied that he had ever retained Cohen in connection with “any matter between me and a third party,” the Times couldn’t contain itself:
The reference to a third party seems to be an allusion to one of Mr. Cohen’s specialties: drawing up confidentiality settlements. The lawyer has acknowledged paying $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film actress known as Stormy Daniels, as part of a nondisclosure agreement to secure her silence before Election Day in 2016. Last week, it came to light that Mr. Cohen had arranged for Mr. Broidy to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model, Shera Bechard, who became pregnant during an affair with Mr. Broidy. After the confidential deal became public, Mr. Broidy resigned from his post as a deputy finance chairman of the Republican Party.
Perhaps you think this is poetic justice for Hannity, who is not above using flimsy evidence to lambaste political opponents and Trump critics. But as a very wise federal judge once admonished me, courts “don’t do poetic justice, they do prosaic justice” — the routine, workaday adherence to the principles and standards on which the rule of law depends.
Under that kind of justice, courts protect uncharged people from being identified in public proceedings in connection with criminal investigations. The failure of the court and the government lawyers to enforce that standard just adds fuel to the fiery contention that, where President Trump is involved, investigations are driven by politics, not law enforcement.