Trump Lawyer Cohen Dangled Policy Help, Ex-Novartis Chief Says


Porn actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti, said Monday, May 14, he did nothing wrong by distributing a report last week that detailed the finances of the president's personal attorney, Cohen, and showed he had charged companies a hefty price for "insight" about Trump.

Jimenez, who handed the reins to Narasimhan this year, said the contract with Cohen was negotiated with the company's legal team after the two sides made contact. "As a cosignatory with our former C.E.O., I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end".

The announcement came after Novartis was dragged into the scandal over Cohen's payment of $130,000 to United States adult film actor Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election. It was recently revealed that Novartis made monthly payments, totalling $1.2m, seeking guidance on how the Trump administration might approach U.S. healthcare policies.

Felix Ehrat, general counsel for the Swiss drugmaker, noted in a statement Wednesday that the company's $1.2 million agreement was "legally in order", but added "it was an error".

U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the payments as a strand of his wider investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign.

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Jimenez said he never met Cohen himself but told Forbes they did have a long phone conversation where he asked about Cohen's background.

On May 9, Novartis said it signed a one-year contract for $100,000 a month with the firm in February 2017, seeking advice on the new administration's public health policy.

Jimenez spoke a day after his successor, Vas Narasimhan, conducted a conference call for 5,000 Novartis managers in which he said the company needs to rethink its approach to the use of consultants and lobbying firms, according to a person familiar with the situation.

After the election, drug companies proactively sought to develop policy proposals amid a commitment to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Jimenez said. Rather than terminating the contract, Jimenez elected not to, because he anxious that ensuing litigation would cost more than paying out the contract would. Novartis should have done more due diligence and "definitively parted ways" with Cohen as soon as it knew he wouldn't be able to help, the former CEO said. In addition to those who actually lobby the government, a person would have to register under FARA if they do any kind of public relations for a foreign client or act as a consultant on USA policy, as Cohen was hired to do.

The case is under examination by the Greek and USA authorities.