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Cohen Promised Novartis Access To White House After $1.2M Payment

Shortly after his longtime boss and client Donald Trump took office as president, Michael Cohen contacted health care company Novartis AG for a consulting job and promised access to the White House, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Novartis paid him $1.2 million for that access, Eric Althoff, a spokesman for the company, told ABC.

Althoff confirmed Novartis was contacted by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller in November of 2017 regarding its agreement with Cohen’s start-up, Essential Consultants, LLC., which he created in October 2016.

The outreach from Mueller came weeks before Michael Avenatti, the attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels, made public a seven-page document alleging evidence that Essential Consultants had accepted more than $4.4 million in payments from foreign and domestic clients who, in some cases, had significant business interests in Washington. According to the document, Cohen used that same company to pay out a hush agreement with the actress.

Novartis had its first meeting with Cohen in March 2017 under the consulting arrangement, Althoff told ABC.

He said the company soon decided that Cohen would not be able “to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to U.S. healthcare policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further.”

“Basically the company did not feel that he could provide the access [he claimed],” Althoff added.

Yet the company said it continued to pay Cohen because the contract could be terminated only for cause.

Althoff said the company cooperated fully with federal investigators. “Any agreements with Essential Consultants were entered before our current CEO taking office in February of this year and have expired,” he added.

Contact Alyssa Fisher at fisher@forward.com or on Twitter, @alyssalfisher

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