Posted in Industry Insights

Fighting for access in Cohen hearings

, by Lauren Easton

An attorney representing five news organizations, including The Associated Press, successfully persuaded a judge to release the name of a third client of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in a notable victory for public access.

Joining with The New York Times, ABC News, Newsday and CNN, AP engaged attorneys Rachel Strom and Robert Balin to be present during the hearings for Cohen in New York on Friday and Monday.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court following a hearing in New York, April 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Strom helped to keep the hearings open on Friday, over several objections, while Balin seemingly made the difference in Monday’s disclosure of Sean Hannity’s name as a client of Cohen’s – a revelation that made headlines. The judge, after hearing Balin’s legal arguments, said that the client’s desire not to be named publicly was not enough under the law.

“This is another small but impactful example of AP’s commitment to transparency paying dividends,” said AP Assistant General Counsel Brian Barrett.

When Hannity’s name was read, there were gasps and some laughter in the courtroom, according to the AP news story.  

MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow read through the court transcripts, including the exchange between Balin and the judge, on her program Monday night.