Sen. Wyden Opens Inquiry On Michael Cohen, Novartis Business Deal

Wyden wrote to Novartis to provide additional details of the arrangement with Trump's personal attorney.

Susan Walsh / AP Images

Wyden wrote to Novartis to provide additional details of the arrangement with Trump's personal attorney.

Last week, news reports surfaced that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer who was hired to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels, used his position to pitch to Novartis and AT&T.

According to a report by Politico, Vasant Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, apologized to employees for the company’s payments to Cohen. He said that the company made a mistake in entering into this engagement. The pharmaceutical paid Trump’s personal attorney $1.2 million in a yearlong contract. Incidentally, the pharma company has been negotiating with Medicare on pricing for a drug that costs nearly half a million dollars to treat cancer.

On Friday, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden wrote to Novartis to provide additional details of the arrangement. Wyden also sent a letter to Cohen, requesting him to provide information about the deal.

“Reports about Michael Cohen’s dealings with Novartis look more like a corporate shakedown than an honest business arrangement. Novartis paid Mr. Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it paid its big-shot lobbyists in Washington. The American public needs to know who at the company signed off on this scheme and what were they expecting in return. Drug prices are already out of reach for too many American families, and drug companies need to be held accountable if they are breaking the law,” he said in a statement issued to the press.

In his letter to Cohen, Wyden asked for details pertaining to the actual work done by Cohen for the pharma firm, how his relationship with Novartis began, and all the communication between him and Novartis officials.

In his letter to Novartis, Wyden asked details pertaining to communication between Novartis staff and the White House. Wyden also asked the company to explain the approval process for the contract with Cohen, and the reason to engage Trump’s personal attorney.

Novartis has been asked to submit all letters, emails, text messages, memos, recordings, spreadsheets and documents pertaining to Cohen.

According to news reports, the company’s arrangement with Cohen was set up before Narasimhan took over as CEO in February.

Earlier this week, Novartis acknowledged that it had cooperated last year with questioning in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference.