Fox News Employees Split Over Sean Hannity Disclosure: ‘I’m F-ing Livid’ to ‘It’s a Nothing Burger’

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Fox News employees are divided over the news that Sean Hannity had been named as a client of Donald Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen even as the primetime star downplayed the nature of their professional connection — with one staffer calling the story “a nothing burger” and another suggesting the host may have violated company guidelines.

“I’m f—ing livid,” one senior channel staffer told TheWrap Wednesday over Hannity’s failure to disclose the relationship in his on-air discussions about Cohen, who has been at the center of many a news story in recent months. The staffer also voiced disappointment that the network has not sent any communication to employees over the issue.

“We’re left to reading press reports to find out what’s going on, what the company knew about this potential conflict of interest and what it is doing to investigate Sean Hannity’s public claims,” the staffer said.

Also Read: That Time Hannity Torched George Stephanopoulos for Not Disclosing a Clinton Foundation Donation

The same individual also said Hannity’s conduct appeared to be in violation of acceptable behavior found within Fox News employee handbook, which reads in part:

“Conflicts between your private interests and the legitimate business interests of this Company generally arise when your personal interests or affiliations run counter to your responsibilities at work … You should not improperly use your position or resources of the Company in order to benefit yourself, your relatives, your friends or other businesses.”

Both Fox News and 21st Century Fox did not immediately respond to inquiries over whether Hannity had run afoul of company rules.

Other Fox News employees met the Hannity disclosure with a shrug. “Do I care personally? F— no,” one on-air talent told TheWrap. “Sean Hannity is still the No. 1 player in all of Fox shows. This isn’t such an egregious act that he would be fired. He’s not a journalist.”

“If this was something really serious, if they go in and find out something else — if there was a payment or something salacious or borderline illegal — I think that’s when it becomes a very, very big deal,” the individual added.

Also Read: Colbert Completely Loses It Over Hannity-Cohen Shocker: ‘Who Did Sean Hannity Have Sex With?’ (Video)

“A lot of the talk in the newsroom was kind of like poking fun at CNN’s complete obsession [with the story],” a third network staffer told TheWrap, adding that Fox News overseer Rupert Murdoch seemed unlikely to discipline its top star especially with another primetime host, Laura Ingraham, enduring an advertiser boycott over a tweet about high school anti-gun-violence activist David Hogg.

“There was talk that [Rupert] Murdoch didn’t like the way the Laura Ingraham situation was handled,” the staffer said. “Murdoch likes to be tough. When I heard that, I assumed Hannity was going to get a pass.”

On Tuesday, Fox News issued a statement that the company had been “surprised” by Hannity’s “informal relationship” with Cohen but that “he continues to have our full support.”

Also Read: Alan Dershowitz Chides Sean Hannity to His Face Over Michael Cohen Connection (Video)

Still, Hannity has faced heat from some colleagues, including network analyst Alan Dershowitz, who handed Hannity a public rebuke on his Hannity’s own show Monday evening.

“I do want to say that I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show,” the Harvard law professor chided. “You could have said just that you had asked him for advice or whatever, but I think it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that relationship.”

Cohen has served as Donald Trump’s attorney fixer for a decade and according to the disclosure in federal court Monday also represented two other clients, Sean Hannity and former Republican National Committee Finance Chairman Elliott Broidy.

While Hannity has insisted his consultations with Cohen were limited and confined to real estate matters, the Trump attorney was directly involved in facilitating cash payments to women who have accused both Trump and Broidy of sexual affairs.

 

Related stories from TheWrap:

That Time Hannity Torched George Stephanopoulos for Not Disclosing a Clinton Foundation Donation

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Alan Dershowitz Chides Sean Hannity to His Face Over Michael Cohen Connection (Video)

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Jimmy Kimmel Goes All In on ‘My Pal’ Sean Hannity for Michael Cohen Reveal: ‘That Sounds Normal’ (Video)

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Jimmy Kimmel hadn’t talked about Sean Hannity since the end of their feud last week, at least not directly, but he couldn’t help but take some shots at the guy on his show Monday night after the big news of the day was the reveal that Hannity was the secret third client of Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen.

“Michael Cohen has three known clients. One of them is Donald Trump, for whom he paid Stormy Daniels; client number two is Elliott Broidy. This guy is the former deputy finance chair for the RNC. Michael negotiated a 1.6 million dollar payment to a Playboy model he had an affair with — put his picture up there again, just for a moment — and impregnated by the way. And she had an abortion. So he’s a good dude,” Kimmel said. Here’s the picture of Broidy they were using, by the way.

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“And this morning, Michael Cohen was forced to reveal the name of a mystery third client. He tried everything to keep it secret but the judge ordered them to reveal the name of client number three and shockingly that client turned out to be none other than my pal Sean Hannity of Fox News,” Kimmel said. “Isn’t that interesting? That he would need advice from Michael Cohen?

Also Read: ‘SNL’ Weekend Update’s Michael Che Jokes that Trump ‘Being Into Pee Pee Is Kind of Charming’ (Video)

“So, Hannity released a statement today, wanting to clarify his arrangement with Cohen. He wrote, ‘Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.’ That sounds normal. He has a lawyer he doesn’t pay,” Kimmel joked.

But this thread sparked an idea for Kimmel — this sounded like a pretty sweet deal that he might want to try out.

“By the way, I’m thinking of hiring Michael Cohen as my lawyer,” Kimmel joked. “He only has three clients and apparently, he works for free. He doesn’t take money from anyone.”

Also Read: Kimmel Subtly Responds to Hannity’s Threat, Says Nobody Cares He Was on ‘The Man Show’ (Video)

Kimmel also couldn’t help but wonder what it was Hannity needed from a lawyer who seems to have such an extremely specific specialty.

“Hannity was tweeting furiously this afternoon. As you might imagine he wants to distance himself from a lawyers who his only job seems to be paying women out. He wrote, ‘I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party.’ What kind of legal advice doesn’t involve a third party? Unless…maybe Sean Hannity was thinking about suing himself?” Kimmel asked.

“Besides the ‘implications that are raised – this is a big deal because Sean Hannity has been the chief propaganda guy for Trump’s legal team. He never disclosed that he is also represented by a member of that legal team! If this is the biggest witch hunt in history, as they say it is, we are running out of spots on the broomstick. It’s getting very full. We may have to add an extension to this thing.”

Also Read: Colbert: Trump Is ‘Like a Zeppelin – Full of Hot Air and We’re All Waiting for Him to Go Down in Flames’ (Video)

You can watch all of this portion of Kimmel’s monologue from Monday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live” in the video embedded at the top of this post.

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Elliott Broidy Resigns From RNC After Reports of $1.6 Million Payment to Playboy Playmate

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Elliott Broidy, a prominent GOP fundraiser, resigned his post as deputy national finance chairman at the Republican National Committee Friday, a person familiar with the matter told TheWrap.

The resignation, first published by the Wall Street Journal, comes just two hours after the paper published a story about a secret $1.6 million hush payment to a former Playboy model, who said Broidy had impregnated her.

The 2017 non-disclosure agreement was brokered by the President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is also a member of the RNC’s finance committee. Cohen will remain in his post, according to the WSJ.

Also Read: Michael Cohen Set Up GOP Fundraiser Elliott Broidy’s $1.6 Million Payment to Playboy Playmate (Report)

Mr. Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, was a vice chairman for the Trump campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party. He personally helped raise more than $108 million during the 2016 presidential race and donated $160,000 to the RNC.

“I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate,” Broidy told the WSJ in a statement. “At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period.”

Also Read: Meet Elliott Broidy, Donald Trump’s New Shady Fundraiser

Mr. Cohen didn’t respond to requests for comment. Keith Davidson, a spokesman for the woman’s lawyer, would not confirm or deny reports of the agreement.

As TheWrap reported in 2016, Broidy pleaded guilty to committing a felony in 2009, by giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund for his then-firm Markstone Capital Partners.

Broidy avoided jail time by blowing the whistle on the same people who accepted his bribes. He admitted to ponying up $75,000 for an all-expenses paid luxury trip to Jerusalem, which included first-class tickets, luxury hotel suites, a helicopter tour, and a personal driver for New York State’s comptroller and his family.

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Michael Cohen Set Up GOP Fundraiser Elliott Broidy’s $1.6 Million Payment to Playboy Playmate (Report)

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In a bit of an extra-marital pickle? Better call Michael Cohen.

A new report by the Wall Street Journal says that President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer negotiated yet another non-disclosure deal in late 2017 to the tune of $1.6 million to silence a former Playboy model who said she was impregnated by a top Republican fundraiser.

The payment was made on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist and deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, which also boasts Cohen as national deputy finance chairman, the WSJ reported.

Also Read: Meet Elliott Broidy, Donald Trump’s New Shady Fundraiser

The agreement prevents the former Playboy model from talking about her relationship with Broidy. In exchange, the woman would receive $1.6 million in the span of two years in quarterly installments, the WSJ said. The first payment was due Dec. 1.

“I acknowledge I had a consensual relationship with a Playboy Playmate,” Mr. Broidy said in a statement. “At the end of our relationship, this woman shared with me that she was pregnant. She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period.”

Cohen didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s requests for comment. Keith Davidson, a spokesman for the woman’s lawyer told the WSJ she could not confirm or deny the report.

Also Read: Stormy Daniels Feels ‘Vindicated’ After Michael Cohen Raid, Her Lawyer Says

Cohen, whose home, hotel room and offices were raided by federal investigators this week, is under intense scrutiny as federal prosecutors sift through seized documents, looking for evidence of bank fraud, among other things, according the Journal.

The paper also reported that investigators are specifically looking for evidence related to payments to two women who say they had sexual relationships with Trump, as well as Cohen’s taxi business.

Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, dismissed the accusations calling the search warrants “completely inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Also Read: ‘Morning Joe’ Feels Sorry for ‘Good Guy’ Michael Cohen: ‘Very Gentle’ (Video)

Broidy, 60, helped the Trump campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party raise more than $108 million during the 2016 presidential race. He also gave $160,000 last year to the Republican National Committee, according to the Journal.

Broidy’s non-disiclosure agreement with the Playboy model is similar to another 2016 hush deal, in which Cohen paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose legals name is Stephanie Clifford, to stop her from talking about her relationship with Trump more than a decade ago.

The WSJ also reported that the Broidy deal used the same pseudonyms as the Daniels agreement — David Dennison and Peggy Peterson.

As TheWrap reported in 2016, Broidy pleaded guilty to committing a felony in 2009, by giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund for his then-firm Markstone Capital Partners.

He avoided jail time by blowing the whistle on the same people who accepted his bribes. He admitted to ponying up $75,000 for an all-expanses paid luxury trip to Jerusalem, which included first-class tickets, luxury hotel suites, a helicopter tour, and a personal driver for New York State’s comptroller and his family.

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