Speaking to Stat News this Wednesday, an employee of the pharmaceutical company Novartis said that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen promised them access to Trump and his inner White House circle in exchange for money.
According to the employee’s account, Cohen contacted then-Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez last year and promised him access to Trump and his newly minted presidential administration.
Jimenez took the call and then instructed his team to reach a deal with Cohen. A one-year contract worth $1.2 million was signed with Cohen in February 2017. The company’s hope was that Cohen could help it navigate a bevy of uncertain issues facing the drug maker — from potential changes to the Affordable Care Act and tax reform to navigating reimbursement challenges for medicines.
“With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players,” the unidentified employee told Stat. “We were trying to find an inroad into the administration. Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him. It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist.”
The employee clarified that it was Cohen who first reached out to Novartis.
In a statement put out on Wednesday, Novartis says it hired Cohen in February of 2017 as a consultant and paid him $1.2 million for a one-year contract. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly contacted Novartis over its relationship with Cohen.
“With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain US healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act,” the company’s statement read.
But Novartis added that they came to the conclusion that Cohen would “be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further,” meaning that they fulfilled the year contract but did not renew it.
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti first revealed Novatis’ payments to a shell company owned by Cohen this Tuesday. Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump over 10 years ago.
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