More News Trickles In On The Trump Fixers’ Money Fund

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Stormy Daniels & Karen McDougal Affairs, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

How Novartis came to give 1.2 million to Michael Cohen:

The curious relationship between one of the world’s biggest drug makers and President Trump’s personal lawyer began early last year when Michael Cohen, a longtime fixer for the president, reached out to Novartis’s then-chief executive officer Joe Jimenez, promising help gaining access to Trump and influential officials in the new administration, according to an employee inside Novartis familiar with the matter.

Jimenez took the call and then instructed his team to reach a deal with Cohen. A one-year contract worth $1.2 million was signed with Cohen in February 2017. The company’s hope was that Cohen could help it navigate a bevy of uncertain issues facing the drug maker — from potential changes to the Affordable Care Act and tax reform to navigating reimbursement challenges for medicines.

“He reached out to us,” the Novartis employee said, providing STAT with the company’s version of events as it scrambles to contain the fallout from being entangled in the investigations surrounding Trump and his inner circle, including Cohen. “With a new administration coming in, basically, all the traditional contacts disappeared and they were all new players. 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.”

Yeah!  That should have been a red flag, seeing as how lobbyists have to register.  But then, this…

In March 2017, a group of Novartis employees, mostly from the government affairs and lobbying teams, met with Cohen in New York to discuss specific issues and strategies. But the meeting was a disappointment, the insider explained, and the Novartis squad left with the impression that Cohen and Essential Consultants — the firm controlled by Cohen that Novartis was making payments to — may not be able to deliver.

“At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was a probably a slippery slope to engage him. So they decided not to really engage Cohen for any activities after that,” the employee continued. Rather than attempt to cancel the contract, the company allowed it to lapse early in 2018 and not run the risk of ticking off the president. “It might have caused anger,” this person said.

Sure. Pay Cohen $1.2 million to do nothing, and then when you find out you’ve been fleeced, don’t demand the money back so as not to piss off Trump.

Is anyone buying this?

It certainly looks like Cohen was selling access to the President, or possibly influence.  One key question is whether Trump was aware of that arrangement.  He claims no, at least to the Russian oligarch:

President Trump told his lawyers on Tuesday night he didn’t know about payments made to his personal attorney by a Russian oligarch and businesses lobbying the federal government.

After the payments were revealed by Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, and then largely confirmed by news accounts and the companies themselves, Trump lawyers Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani called the president to ask him about it.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Trump told his lawyers, according Guiliani’s recollection of the phone call.

Pretty sure there is more to come on this.