Novartis downplays $1.2M in payments to Michael Cohen firm

Novartis AG wants everyone to know that its payments to a firm owned by President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, have ended and the manager who engaged the firm is no longer at the big Swiss drugmaker.

The announcement Tuesday is a reaction to reports that Novartis made payments to a consulting company, Essential Consultants LLC, created by Cohen.

Novartis confirmed, in an emailed statement, that they paid Cohen $100,000 per month, for a total of $1.2 million.

“In February 2017, Novartis entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants shortly after the election of President Trump,” and the deal was “focused on U.S. health-care policy matters,” Novartis said in a statement, according to MarketWatch.

Novartis added that the agreement was put into effect before Vasant Narasimhan became CEO, and that it expired in February 2018. Narasimhan became CEO on Feb. 1, 2018, replacing Joe Jimenez, who resigned after eight years of running the drugmaker.

Michael Avenatti, lawyer to former porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, tweeted about companies, including Novartis and AT&T, paying alleged payments to Cohen’s consulting firm.

AT&T confirmed that it had payed Michael Cohen in 2017 for "insights into understanding the new administration."

Also, Novartis has been contacted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which has been investigating Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.