Mueller report reveals Sean Hannity was the person who informed Reince Priebus about the Trump Tower meeting

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

According to the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that was released on April 18, it was Fox News host Sean Hannity who informed then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus about a controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior Trump campaign staff and a Russian lawyer in New York City. Over the past year, Hannity has repeatedly downplayed the significance of the meeting and attacked the media for reporting on it. This new revelation again shows the close relationship between President Donald Trump and the Fox host, who some White House aides have described as the administration’s “shadow” chief of staff.

According to the report, “Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 [Trump Tower] meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017.” This meeting, during which Trump campaign advisers, Trump’s family members Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, and other Trump officials were expecting to receive dirt on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has received a great deal of media scrutiny and was part of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Hannity, however, has downplayed the importance of the Trump Tower meeting throughout the investigation and criticized the media for reporting on it and other developments in the Mueller probe. In 2017, he also hosted Trump Jr. on his Fox show to whitewash the meeting, and he has repeatedly attempted to kneecap the investigation by fearmongering about the intentions of people involved in it and calling for them to be fired or prosecuted.

The fact that Hannity is the one who told the president’s then-chief of staff about the Trump Tower meeting demonstrates his important role in the Trump sphere. As The Washington Post reported, Trump and Hannity often talk on the phone about “ideas for Hannity’s show, Trump’s frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet. ... When he’s off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers.” In addition, Trump relies on Hannity and other Fox hosts for policy advice.  

Hannity is mentioned two more times within the report. The first reference notes that the Fox host engaged with tweets posted by accounts controlled by the Russian Internet Research Agency. The second relays that Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen talked about a potential Trump meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Hannity’s radio show.