Fox News anchor Sean Hannity has found himself in the middle of yet another scandal involving the Mueller investigation and his close ties to Donald Trump, as a Freedom of Information Act request by BuzzFeed News shows.
It was never in doubt that Hannity had both inserted himself into the President’s legal issues as an advisor and also unwittingly been exposed as a fellow client of Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in legal matters of his own that have yet to be revealed. But the extent to which Hannity insinuated his own influence into the Mueller investigation was not fully known or appreciated prior to the FOIA report:
[H]undreds of pages of documents released to BuzzFeed News reveal the depths of the conservative firebrand’s relationship with key members of President Donald Trump’s orbit as they faced a vast criminal investigation conducted by Mueller’s team over two years. The documents, turned over by the Justice Department and FBI in response to a BuzzFeed News Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, also raise ethical questions about Hannity’s role as a trusted adviser to the president’s circle at the height of Mueller’s inquiry — something the television host failed to disclose to his millions of viewers.”
That’s not really a surprise: Hannity is a liar because lying is part of his job. But how deep did those lies go?
In one interview summary from the investigation, Trump’s former campaign manager, convicted felon Paul Manafort, described Hannity as a “close personal friend” who was acting as a “back channel” to Trump in order to pass messages between Trump and Manafort. Later in the FOIA summary, that much is clarified during an October 2018 interview:
Manafort knew Hannity was speaking to Trump around then because Hannity would tell Manafort to hang in there, that he had been talking to Trump, that Trump had his back, and things like that. Manafort understood his conversations with Hannity to be a message from Trump.”
Various other summaries have testimony from former campaign associate Rick Gates describing meetings between Hannity and Donald Trump, Jr. and even Michael Cohen, to whom Hannity gave the name and number of Jay Sekulow — the lawyer that ended up working for Trump to this day.
The report certainly paints Hannity as less than a good faith operator when it comes to the ethics surrounding his connections to the Trump team throughout the Mueller investigation. But will Fox find those connections dangerous enough to distance themselves from the popular “news” anchor?
That remains to be seen.
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