Senate Dems slam President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen for 'selling access' to White House

Senate Democrats on Friday slammed Michael Cohen for “selling access” to the White House, saying they’ve obtained dozens of emails that expose a deeper connection between the President’s former lawyer and the Swiss drug company Novartis.

In a newly released report, Democratic lawmakers accused Novartis of misleading the public about the extent of its relationship with Cohen and the services he provided them through Essential Consultants LLC, a shell company he established shortly before election day. It’s also the same company Cohen used to make payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in a bid to keep her quiet on her rumored affair with Trump.

In probing a $1.2 million payment to the former Trump lawyer, investigators uncovered Novartis CEO Joe Jimenez had extensive contact with Cohen regarding drug policy and the company’s access to the Presidential administration.

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U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen drives after leaving his hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives at Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, talks to reporters as he departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for National Security Advisor, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry talk with each other in the lobby at Trump Tower, December 12, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

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UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan to speak with reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, from left, Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Donald Trump, and Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, speak in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had the 'highest confidence' in the intelligence community, in sharp contrast to President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the CIA after reports it found that the Russian government tried to help him win the presidency.

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Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, looks on as his attorney (not pictured) delivers a statement to reporters after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Attorney Michael Cohen arrives to Trump Tower for meetings with President-elect Donald Trump on December 16, 2016 in New York.

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Cohen, center, a personal attorney for President Trump, leaves Hart Building after his meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election was postponed on September 19, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured leaving a restaurant in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, arrives with his attorney, Stephen M. Ryan, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen is pictured arriving at his hotel in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Levy
Michael Cohen, personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after meeting with Senate Intelligence Committee staff as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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In an email exchange following meetings between the administration and the pharmaceutical industry, Democrats claim Cohen appeared to reach out to Jimenez to discuss drug pricing proposals, according to ABC News. In another, the lawyer seems to urge Novartis to invest in a pharmaceutical company with ties to a firm linked to a Russian billionaire — who Cohen also represented.

Jimenez, replying to a request from Cohen in June 2017, sent over a six-point plan for the Trump administration called “Drug Pricing Cost Initiatives.” Democrats in their report allege several of the key topics in Jimenez’s email were similar to proposals included in Trump’s May 2018 report outlining the administration’s aim at addressing prescription drug cost.

Still, it’s not clear whether Novartis’ plan held any sway — the drug company is among many publicly advocating for cost-lowering initiatives.

Senate Democrats additionally noted the drug company “explicitly sought to hire Michael Cohen” because of his closeness to the President. In an early version of their agreement, Novartis specifically requested Cohen “provide access to key policy makers in the US Government” under the scope of his contract.

The line was later replaced with an offer “to provide consulting and advisory services.”

When the agreement was made public in May, current Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan said the company “made a mistake” in working with Cohen but maintained that all of their business had been above board in an email to staff.

Jimenez previously said executives held a lone meeting with Cohen before realizing their error. Under their contract thought, they were still obligated to pay out his $1.2 million through February 2018.

“Michael Cohen was somebody who was introduced to us, and he was unknown to us, but he was said to be somebody who could help,” Jimenez said in May. “After my team met with him individually, it was clear that he oversold his abilities.”

Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen pushed back on allegations, say the former Trump insider never lobbied on behalf of Novartis or anything other client.

“Mr. Cohen never introduced anyone from Novartis to anyone in the administration or Congress, did not ‘sell access,’” Davis told ABC. “As a consultant he provided strategic advice to his client.”

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