Novartis said it believed Cohen “could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain USA health-care policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act”. The objective of the payments, which predate the sanctions, and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is unclear. The reason, according to Novartis, is that the contract could only be terminated for cause.
The coveted medallions were once valued at more than $1 million each, but their value has plummeted with the arrival of ride-hailing services such as Uber.
Some of the companies that engaged Cohen also had contact with Trump personally.
Avenatti has also alleged that a Russian oligarch “routed eight payments” totaling a half-million dollars to Cohen through a company in the United States named Columbus Nova in 2017. In early 2017, telecommunications giant ATT wired $600,000 to Cohen’s firm. On Wednesday the company said in a statement that it “believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act”. The better question would be why would Cohen take the money and use Essential Consultants to do it?
In fact, Essential Consulting is the firm that Cohen established to pay $130K to former porn star Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had sex with Donald Trump in 2006.
Asked Thursday whether Trump was concerned about people selling access to the president, White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters: “The president makes up his own mind about policy matters and everything else in between”.
“Whenever you think the Trump soap opera couldn’t get any more freakish, it does”, said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. Novartis hasn’t yet confirmed this, however, and it didn’t respond to requests for more information by press time.
Still, anyone with a working moral compass and a modicum of foresight probably wouldn’t put any money into a secret shell company run by the president’s weird personal attorney and taxicab baron, who also happens to be a deputy chairman of the Republican Party’s finance committee and part of the permanent cast of The Real World: Russian Campaign Collusion.
The lawyers for Michael Cohen told a NY judge Wednesday that Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has made “numerous incorrect statements” publicly since releasing information related to Cohen on Tuesday. Richard Blumenthal of CT and Ed Markey of MA – called for an investigation of ATT’s payments.
It was widely reported Tuesday evening that ATT had paid at least $200,000 to Essential Consultants, the DE firm Cohen had created ahead of the 2016 presidential election. A source told Reuters the company had a year-long contract with Cohen.
Who from Novartis attended that March meeting with Cohen, and how did the Novartis contingent conclude Cohen’s services weren’t sufficient?
The company said it hired “several consultants to help us understand how the president and his administration might approach a wide range of policy issues important to the company, including regulatory reform at the (Federal Communications Commission), corporate tax reform and antitrust enforcement”. Suggestions to the contrary clearly misrepresent the facts and can only be meant to further personal or political agendas as to which Novartis should not be a part.
The memo, containing highly specific dates and amounts, stated that Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire, and his cousin “routed” eight payments totalling approximately $500,000 to Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, between January and August 2017.