Democratic lawmakers will reveal Michael Cohen's relationship with Novartis was far more extensive than previously known after obtaining a trove of emails between President Donald Trump’s former attorney and the Swiss drug company’s former chief executive.
Senate Democrats will issue a report Friday morning accusing Cohen of "selling access" to the White House after uncovering the emails between the lawyer and former Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez, reported ABC News.
“What he was selling was a line of access to the Trump administration,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). “That would be how I would characterize it."
Novartis paid $1.2 million to Essential Consultants, the shell company Cohen used to make hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the election.
One newly uncovered email shows Cohen apparently discussing drug pricing proposals with Jiminez after meetings between the Trump administration and pharmaceutical executives, and the attorney also encouraged Novartis to consider investing in a company tied to a firm linked to a Russian billionaire that he also represented.
Ethics experts say Cohen may have been illegally acting as an unregistered lobbyist if he made contact with the president or other federal officials while conducting business with the drug maker.
“That’s lobbying,” said Bryson Morgan, former Investigative Counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics. “It’s the public’s right to know who is trying to influence the government, and through what means, and for what compensation. It’s an important mechanism for the public being able to hold their public officials accountable.”