The Swiss drug company Novartis on Wednesday revealed that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE contacted the company last year about payments it made to Michael Cohen, President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE's longtime personal attorney.
“Novartis cooperated fully with the special counsel’s office and provided all the information requested,” the company said in a statement.
Novartis said it hired Cohen in February 2017 as part of a one-year contract for consulting services. The company said it paid Cohen $100,000 per month, for a total of $1.2 million.
"With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain US healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act," the company said.
"In March 2017, Novartis had its first meeting with Michael Cohen under this agreement."
Novartis said the meeting led the company to conclude 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." But the contract could not be terminated, so the payments to Cohen continued until February 2018, Novartis said.
The payments to Cohen were made through a shell company called Essential Consultants LLC. That shell company has come under intense scrutiny because Cohen used it to make a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film star alleging an affair with Trump, as part of a nondisclosure agreement.
The statement from Novartis comes a day after Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, published documents purportedly detailing the companies that have paid Essential Consultants, including Novartis.
Avenatti also revealed that Cohen received $500,000 in the months after the 2016 election from a company run by a Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The memo from Avenatti states that Cohen’s account received roughly $500,000 in payments from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg between January and August 2017.
“Mr. Cohen inexplicably accepted these payments while he was the personal attorney to the President and holding himself out at times as employed by the Trump Organization (with few other clients),” the memo said.
“This was occurring at the same time significant questions were being raised relating to (a) the involvement of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the 2016 Presidential Election and (b) the extent of the relationship between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump."
CNN reported on Tuesday that Mueller questioned Vekselberg about the payments to Cohen.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges she had an affair with Trump more than 10 years ago. She is suing to negate the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen, and is also suing both Cohen and Trump for defamation after they accused her of lying.