Michael Avenatti told us on Tuesday that Michael Cohen made a ton of money by selling access to Donald Trump to big pharma Novartis. It turns out that it is much worse than Avenatti thought. MUCH worse.
On Wednesday, STAT News reported that one of the world’s biggest drug companies gave Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, $1.2 million after Trump took office. Cohen never did any work for Novartis, but they continued to pay him for a full year – because they were afraid of angering Trump.
“The curious relationship between one of the world’s biggest drug makers and President Trump’s personal lawyer began early last year when Michael Cohen, a longtime fixer for the president, reached out to Novartis’s then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new administration, according to an employee inside Novartis familiar with the matter.
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.”
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, broke the news about Cohen and Novartis on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the drug company was in full damage control mode. But it turns out that the situation with this company and Trump’s lawyer is even worse than Avenatti thought.
According to a Novartis employee,
“[Cohen] reached out to us. 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.”
In March of 2017, Novartis had their one and only meeting with Cohen. It became apparent quickly that Cohen was not going to be able to deliver what he initially promised. They had been conned.
““At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was a probably a slippery slope to engage him. So they decided not to really engage Cohen for any activities after that,” the employee continued. Rather than attempt to cancel the contract, the company allowed it to lapse early in 2018 and not run the risk of ticking off the president. “It might have caused anger,” this person said.”
As it got near to the contract expiration date, Cohen contacted the company again to renew. But the new CEO, Vasant Narasimhan, declined to renew Cohen’s scam contract and allowed it to expire.
A spokesman for the company said, “This episode was clearly a mistake.”
“Meanwhile, last November, several lawyers from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office approached Novartis regarding the agreement with Cohen. Among those interviewed was Jimenez. The company released a statement Wednesday morning saying it “cooperated fully” and “provided all the information requested. Novartis considers this matter closed as to itself and is not aware of any outstanding questions regarding the agreement.””