President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen made a deal with Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis last year, promising that the company could have access to Trump and his inner circle if they signed a $1.2 million contract with Cohen.
According to Stat, which first reported the story, the relationship began when Cohen contacted the company’s then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez with an offer to work as a “fixer” for Novartis, promising that he could get them inside access to the president and other high-ranking administration officials.
In February 2017, a $1.2 million contract was signed hiring Cohen for that purpose.
“He reached out to us,” an anonymous Novartis employee told the media outlet, noting that the company hoped he could assist them in working through possible changes to the Affordable Care Act and tax reform.
“With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players,” the source continued. “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.”
A month after the contract was signed hiring Cohen a select group of Novartis employees traveled to New York to discuss strategies and issues with him, but quickly discovered that he would likely be unable to deliver on the promises he’d made to them during their previous discussions.
“At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was probably a slippery slope to engage him. So they decided not to really engage Cohen for any activities after that,” the Novartis employee said, explaining that the company opted to let the contract run out without using Cohen’s services again.
“It might have caused anger,” the employee added.
Neither Cohen or Jimenez could be reached when Stat made a request for comment.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team did reach out to Novartis regarding the arrangement with Cohen last November and released a statement on Wednesday saying the company “cooperated fully” with their investigation.
The ties between Cohen and the pharmaceutical company were revealed on Tuesday when attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents adult film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump, shared a report on Twitter revealing payments Cohen received from Novartis.
The document also revealed that Cohen accepted $500,000 from a sanctioned Russian oligarch affiliated with Russian President Vladimir Putin and payments from Korea Aerospace Industries, an aircraft manufacturer.