Cohen promised Novartis access to Trump: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen promised the pharmaceutical company Novartis that it could have access to Trump and his inner circle if they signed a contract with Cohen, a Novartis employee told Stat on Wednesday.

The employee told Stat that Cohen contacted then-CEO Joe Jimenez last year, promising that he could get Novartis access to both Trump and top administration officials. Jimenez then reportedly ordered company officials to make a deal with Cohen.

“With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players,” the employee told the publication. “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.”

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Novartis on Wednesday in a statement said that it hired Cohen in February 2017 for consulting services, paying him a total of $1.2 million for a one-year contract.

The company also said that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE had contacted it last year over the payments to Cohen.

"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 a statement Wednesday. 

However, Novartis said that it concluded that Cohen 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."

The contract was not terminated and Cohen continued to be paid in monthly installments through the end of the agreement.

The payments to Cohen's shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, from Novartis were first detailed in a report by adult-film star Stormy Daniels's attorney, Michael Avenatti, on Tuesday. Daniels is currently suing both Cohen and Trump for defamation.

Cohen arranged a payment to Daniels days before the 2016 election as part of a nondisclosure deal meant to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. Daniels is also suing Trump to void the nondisclosure agreement.