You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand the concept of attorney-client privilege. Watching a few episodes of “Law & Order” reruns will give you the basics: what you communicate to your attorney is secret, and your attorney can be disbarred for breaking it. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large it’s pretty sacrosanct.
There is one important caveat: the privilege can only be invoked if the attorney is actually representing you. So I don’t know how Sean Hannity, the blowtorch blowhard on Fox News and the Wormtongue to Trump, can claim attorney-client privilege with Michael Cohen out of one side of his mouth and vehemently deny that Michael Cohen is his lawyer out of the other.
The fact that Mr. Cohen is also Trump’s lawyer makes it interesting because of the “Law & Order”-style dramatic reveal in the courtroom. But in the overall scheme of things, it makes you wonder what the big deal is all about; lots of lawyers have a wide spectrum of clients and they aren’t all connected to each other. Heck, my own attorney represented Tony Bosch, the Dr. Feel-Good who juiced up A-Rod, and you don’t see me running around with 19-inch biceps and playing for the Yankees. So why is Sean Hannity so freaked out by this reveal and claiming a privilege?
Maybe it’s because Michael Cohen only has three clients; the other one besides Trump is Elliott Broidy, the recently-resigned RNC finance chair. And maybe there’s more to this relationship between Hannity and Trump and Cohen than just sharing a lawyer. Which brings up the fact that attorney-client privilege goes out the window if the attorney is actively engaged with the client in the furtherance of a crime.