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Novartis back in the spotlight over Trump/Cohen links

Cohen said the fee intended to get him to work as a lobbyist

Novartis

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has explained why Novartis paid him $1.2m to act as a consultant on the Trump administration, to the embarrassment of the drugmaker.

Cohen’s testimony in front of a congressional committee yesterday was notable for departing from Novartis’ version of events in a number of respects, including how many times he had contact with the pharma giant, and what Novartis hoped to achieve through the relationship.

He told the House Oversight committee members that Novartis’ $1.2m fee was intended to get him to work as lobbyist who could provide access to President Trump and other government officials, while Novartis has previously suggested it was intended for general information on the administration’s approach to healthcare policy.

Cohen also said he had interacted with Novartis on half a dozen occasions, whereas the company’s original account insisted they had direct contact only once, and he claimed Novartis sought him out, rather than vice versa.

Pressed by lawmakers, Cohen said that Novartis wanted him to help unravel “the enigma of Donald Trump,” adding that he “crossed out” a clause in  a contract sent over by the drugmaker that asked him to work as a lobbyist, according to Reuters.

Last year, Novartis rejected claims it misled the Senate over its links to Cohen, and disputed suggestions former CEO Joe Jimenez had multiple discussions with the lawyer. Nevertheless, the case led to the resignation of legal head Felix Ehrat (pictured below), who accepted responsibility for making the payments.

Felix Ehrat

The company has admitted it paid Cohen $100,000 a month for one year for his expertise on the Trump administration, but said previously it broke off contact quickly after it became apparent Cohen wasn’t well informed on health policy.

Novartis’ new CEO Vas Narasimhan has admitted that the payments were a serious error, but has been careful to distance himself from the decision.

In a statement on Cohen’s testimony, the company said it has “previously addressed all questions regarding our relationship with Essential Consultants [Cohen’s company] and we consider this matter closed.”

Novartis’ relationship with Cohen exposed amid the journalist digging and legal wrangling that followed porn star Stormy Daniels’ claim that she had an affair with the President and was paid $130,000 – through Essential Consultant’s bank accounts – for her silence.

Article by
Phil Taylor

28th February 2019

From: Sales

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