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Hannity Denies Report He Hired Cohen To Help Combat Ad Boycotts Following O’Reilly’s Firing

This afternoon brought the absolutely blockbuster revelation that Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s mystery third client was pro-Trump Fox News host Sean Hannity. Immediately following the breaking news, which came out of Cohen’s federal court appearance over last week’s FBI raid, Hannity released a short statement that said Cohen was a longtime friend and he sought legal advice from Cohen.

Calling into MSNBC minutes after the bombshell was dropped, Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman — who has reported on the inside workings of Fox News for years — reported that Hannity hired Cohen last year following Bill O’Reilly‘s ouster from Fox News in the wake of a severe ad boycott.

“You know, this is a fast-moving story, so I am going to be doing a lot more reporting but what I have heard so far is that at some point last year Sean Hannity hired Michael Cohen to help defend him against left-wing groups that were calling for boycotts in the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s ouster from Fox News,” Sherman told host Ali Velshi.

Noting that Hannity had come under pressure from left-wing groups — Media Matters, for one, targeted Hannity’s advertisers over the Seth Rich story — Sherman said he was told that Hannity “got paranoid” and hired Cohen to look into those groups.

“This could be interesting because oftentimes private investigators are hired by law firms because it allows attorney/client privilege to be maintained,” Sherman added. “So there is a scenario in which if they seized Michael Cohen’s documents inadvertently we might be able to learn to what degree did Sean Hannity try to go after his enemies with shady tactics like private investigators.”

UPDATE 4:45 PM ET: When Sherman was on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House and repeated his reporting, Hannity contacted host Nicolle Wallace while she was on the air and denied he retained Cohen to fight left-wing attacks. You can watch Wallace read off his statement below:

Watch the original report at the top of the page, via MSNBC.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Justin Baragona on Twitter: @justinbaragona