Novartis cites ‘mistake’ in paying Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan issued what appeared to be an apology to his employees on Thursday after the company confirmed it gave $1.2 million to Essential Consultants, the firm run by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

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“Yesterday was not a good day for Novartis,” Narasimhan’s email read. “We made a mistake in entering into this engagement and, as a consequence, are being criticized by a world that expects more from us.”

The CEO of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant pointed out that while he was “not involved with any aspect of this situation,” what defines the company moving forward is how it responds to “this difficult situation.”

Shortly after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Novartis entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants, paying Cohen's firm $100,000 per month for a total of $1.2 million.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the company said it entered into the agreement to focus on health care policy. It terminated the deal after determining in a meeting with Cohen that his firm would not be able to provide the services Novartis sought.

Novartis also made a point to mention that the company retained the services of the firm before Narasimhan took over in February.

The company said Wednesday it has been contacted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team as part of his investigation into possible Russian interference in the election.