News of Novartis, AT&T, a Russian Oligarch, and others paying significant sums to President Trump's former attorney broke yesterday 5/8/18. It was initially reported that Novartis had paid a little under $400,000 to Cohen. It turns out that figure was way too low.
Novartis released a statement on 5/9/18 that it had a one year agreement with Michael Cohen to pay $100,000 per month for Cohen to, “... advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain US healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act.” Novartis eventually, “ … determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to US healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further.”
Novartis' statement said that the agreement predated Vas Narasimhan becoming CEO and that he was in no way involved in the agreement. The statement also said that the agreement was in no way related to the group dinner Dr. Narasimhan had at the World Economic Forum in Davos with President Trump and 15 Europe based industry leaders.
The payments raise a number of questions:
- How did Novartis (and other corporations who made payments to Cohen) learn about Essential Consultants? They weren't exactly a well-known industry consultant.
- Why did Novartis think that Michael Cohen could provide insight into US healthcare policy matters? Of course he was Trump's attorney, but $1.2 million for the possibility he might ask the President to share his thoughts about US Healthcare?
- What was done with the money after Cohen received it? Mueller will likely have some information about this.
Another interesting question might be, who else has Novartis paid for insights into US Healthcare Policy? If you have insights into US Healthcare Policy, you might want to give Novartis a call. At least we know the pay is good.