Look at drugmaker's $1.2M deal with Trump lawyer

Friday, 11 May, 2018

Essential Consultants, according to the report, received large sums of money from companies with an interest in Trump administration business.

Novartis has said it paid $1.2 million in consultancy fees to a firm run by Donald Trump's personal lawyer, who offered insight into the president's plans for healthcare reform. The report gave no indication of what services Cohen provided.

Involved with Essential Consultants' is a company founded by Russian oligarch Viktor F. Vekselberg.

The companies' arrangements with Michael Cohen show how corporate executives reached outside usual channels to establish ties to a new administration that seemed to play with a new set of rules.

The revelation also drew attention to another potential line of inquiry in U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and potential collusion by Trump's campaign.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who is overseeing proceedings in a federal criminal investigation of Cohen, attorneys Stephen Ryan and Todd Harrison accused Avenatti of publishing "numerous incorrect statements to the public in an apparent attempt to prejudice and discredit Mr. Cohen". Funds from that same LLC happenedto be used to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in return for her silence about an alleged affair with the president.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York, April 16, 2018. "These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment".

Novartis admitted it made a costly mistake in making payments totaling almost $1.2 million to Cohen's firm.

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The Stormy Daniels hush payment was the first of many involving Resolution Consultants.

The payment to Essential Consulting Cohen sure looks like a pay-for-play move.

"While much of the information in his "report" is completely inaccurate, Mr. Avenatti has published some information that appears to be from Mr. Cohen's actual bank records, and Mr. Cohen has no reason to believe that Mr. Avenatti is in lawful possession of these records", Cohen's attorneys write.

Under the company's yearlong contract, Mr. Cohen provided advice on how AT&T should approach the merger and various regulatory issues, according to a company note to employees. Moscow has denied USA intelligence agency conclusions of tampering and Trump denies any coordination with Russian officials and his campaign.

But while The Times suggested the president was considering sidelining Giuliani, the former New York City mayor insisted that he should remain in his new role.

He said questions about a relationship between Columbus Nova and Cohen would have to be answered by Intrater "because Columbus Nova is a company owned and managed by him". Soon, AT&T donated $2 million to the inauguration festivities and an additional $80,000 for telecom equipment used during the event. He also gave $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017.

Columbus Nova is headed by Andrew Intrater, who is described as a cousin of Vekselberg in the documents reviewed by AP and in other media reports. "Michael Cohen appears to be selling access to the president of the United States".

In the letter to Wood on Wednesday, Cohen's attorneys claimed that Avenetti had incorrectly linked at least five wire transfers to their client.