It was as if the comedy gods were looking down on America’s late-night television hosts.
In court on Monday, the legal team for President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was forced to identify the name of a third Cohen’s client — a mystery person whom he initially didn’t want to name. The person, it turned out, was none other than the foil and foe of several late night-comedians: Fox News commentator Sean Hannity.
And TV comics such as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah could not contain their excitement.
Here was a person they loved to criticize, a close informal adviser to Trump and firebrand conservative pundit who has lambasted special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign. Hannity also has criticized the raid on Cohen’s office and home, never saying anything to his viewers about a personal, legal or business relationship with Cohen.
(Hannity denied the claim that Cohen represented him, saying he only had brief discussions with him about legal questions.).
The news broke at about 3 p.m. Monday, giving late-night comedians just enough time to squeeze in some giddy one-liners in honor of “Hannity Day,” as Trevor Noah dubbed it. Stephen Colbert went with a different banner: “Hannity Insanity.”
“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
With Hannity’s photo on the screen, Noah put his hands together as if in prayer, looking up to the sky while mouthing the words “thank you.”
“Yeah, it turns out Michael Cohen’s secret client was Sean Hannity, which I’m sorry, is not a good look,” Noah said with a chuckle. “You know right now Sean Hannity is probably on the phone with his wife like, ‘Hey honey, it’s so weird how I use the guy who pays off mistresses to get me out of that parking ticket.’”
Cohen has said he paid adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in late 2016 in exchange for her agreement not to discuss an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. And last week, news broke that Cohen also helped former Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman Elliot Broidy negotiate a $1.6 million settlement with a former Playboy model whom he impregnated during an affair.
Noah urged his audiences to consider “just how unethical” it is that Hannity continuously reported on the FBI raid without mentioning his own legal dealings with Cohen.
“Which, even for Sean Hannity is pretty shady,” Noah said. “Even Instagram models have higher ethical standards. They’ll be like ‘drink tummy tea, by the way, I’m sponsored by tummy tea.’”
The host played various clips during which Hannity discussed the FBI raids on Cohen’s office and residences, which he called an “unprecedented abuse of power.” In another clip, Hannity says: “If you voted for Donald Trump you better get buckled up because this is gonna be a rough ride.”
“Now, we can see that Hannity wasn’t just mad, he was scared,” Noah said. “You know, now that we know he was working with Cohen, that looks less like a news show and more like a guy really stressed, giving himself a pep talk.”
“Late Show With Stephen Colbert” (CBS)
Colbert described Cohen as a “New York attorney and sad neck with hair,” and referred to his client Broidy as “Donald Trump flattened out by a rolling pin.” When explaining that two different Playboy playmates were involved in the legal showdown, Colbert said, “I’m just glad Hef isn’t alive to see his life’s work dragged through the filth like this,” in reference to Playboy’s late founder, Hugh Hefner.
“Pro tip for the president,” Colbert also offered, “when your lawyer needs a lawyer, you need a lawyer.”
After he played a CNN clip revealing Hannity’s name as Cohen’s mysterious third client, Colbert suddenly disappeared from the camera frame. He reappeared slouching in an armchair, drinking a glass of red wine, rubbing his stomach, seemingly experiencing pure bliss.
“Jon Stewart, after the show, I’m gonna come over and we’re just going to spoon, just spoon,” Colbert said. “This is crazy.”
He was referencing his good friend and former colleague from the “The Daily Show,” who was known for his attacks on Fox News and his various feuds with Hannity. Stewart once called Hannity the “most loathsome dude” at Fox News.
“Cohen only has two other clients and all he does for them is pay off mistresses,” Colbert also said, “which raises the obvious question, who did Sean Hannity have sex with?”
Ahead of Colbert’s interview with James B. Comey, the comedian also spoofed ABC’s melodramatic teaser for its highly anticipated interview with the former FBI director, which aired Sunday.
“Are you going to answer any of these questions? Because right now you’re just making faces,” Colbert said in the exaggerated video, poking fun at the ABC trailer.
“Mr. Comey, I’m pregnant,” Colbert quipped. “And it’s not your baby. It’s Sean Hannity’s.”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC)
Earlier this month, Kimmel and Hannity were embroiled in a feud that played out both on their respective shows and on social media. After Kimmel joked on his show about first lady Melania Trump’s accent, Hannity called Kimmel a “despicable disgrace.” They exchanged insults on Twitter, with Hannity calling Kimmel a racist, pervert and “Harvey Weinstein jr.” and Kimmel making a gay sexual innuendo in reference to Hannity’s apparent love for President Trump.
After days of back-and-forth fighting, Kimmel apologized for the sex joke and tried to end the feud, saying the “level of vitriol” from both “is harmful to our country.”
But that didn’t stop Kimmel from reveling in the news Monday of Hannity’s relationship with Cohen.
“Shockingly,” Kimmel said, Cohen’s mystery third client “turned out to be my pal Sean Hannity.”
“Isn’t that interesting, that he would need advice from Michael Cohen,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel also criticized Hannity’s response to the news, in which he said Cohen has “never represented” him.
“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,” Hannity wrote on Twitter. “I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party.”
“Apparently he works for free,” Kimmel said of Cohen, adding: “What kind of legal advice doesn’t involve a third party, unless maybe Sean Hannity was thinking about suing himself?”
“If this is the biggest witch hunt in history, we’re running out of spots on the broomstick,” Kimmel also said, playing off a “witch hunt” phrase used by both Trump and Hannity to describe the Mueller investigation.
Perhaps it was not a late-night comedian, but instead, a CNN host who best captured the mood of the day.
“The judge forced Michael Cohen to admit in court that he has a third client and the third client is Sean Hannity,” Jake Tapper said during his show Monday. “Go home 2018. You’re drunk.”
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