Michael Cohen reached out to pharmaceutical company Novartis in early 2017 and promised the company help in gaining access to President Donald Trump and his administration, STAT News reported Wednesday, citing a Novartis employee.
The revelation follows Novartis’ acknowledgement on Wednesday that the company signed a $1.2 million contract with Cohen in early 2017 to advise the company on how best to navigate health care issues with the new administration. The company claimed that after one meeting with Cohen, they concluded that he “would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated.” The company was not able to leave its contract, so it continued to pay Cohen without engaging with him.
“He reached out to us,” the Novartis employee told STAT News. “With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players. 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 told STAT News that Novartis decided against attempting to cancel its contract with Cohen in part because the company did not want to irk Trump.
Novartis was one of several companies to reveal this week that they paid Cohen through his firm Essential Consultants LLC, the same firm he used to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000. The U.S. affiliate company of Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg also reportedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Cohen after the election. Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly questioned Vekselberg about the transactions.