Novartis calls $1.2 million deal with Trump lawyer's firm a 'mistake'

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The telecommunications firm said in a statement to CNBC that Cohen's company, Essential Consultants, "was one of several firms we engaged in early 2017 to provide insights into understanding the new administration". Stedman said he received an email from the actual Michael Cohen who received this payment.

The one-year contract extended from March 2017 to February 2018-payments special counsel Robert Mueller has been looking into.

"AT&T confirms the payment, and explains it away saying they paid Cohen as a consultant to "gain insight" into the Trump White House", the group adds.

According to financial records reviewed by the New York Times and NBC News, a company linked to a Russian oligarch targeted by U.S. sanctions deposited around $500,000 into an account controlled by Essential Consultants, the shell company Cohen used to pay hush money to Daniels before the 2016 election.

Rich Delmar, a spokesman for the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, told ABC News on Wednesday that investigators are "inquiring into allegations that SAR information" - short for a Suspicious Activity Report - "has been improperly disseminated", referring to reporting related to Cohen's startup, Essential Consulting, LLC. Cohen did no legal or lobbying work for us, and our contract with Cohen expired at the end of its term in December 2017. But in a seven-page memo, Avenatti detailed what he said were wire transfers going into and out of the account Cohen used to pay Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 to stay silent about her alleged affair with the soon-to-be president.

Jimenez also met the president after he took office at a January 31, 2017 meeting in the White House.

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The scrutiny of the Novartis payments is an example of the potential consequences when information that companies expect to remain private enters the news, Hsieh said.

While campaign finance experts say the payment, which was not disclosed in federal campaign filings, could be considered a campaign finance violation if it was made to influence the election, others have pointed out that if Trump made similar payments to other women when he wasn't running for president, then Trump's legal team could potentially argue the payment had nothing to do with politics. Cohen is now under investigation by federal prosecutors in NY, but hasn't been charged.

The Swiss drugmaker has said it has been cooperating with all investigations-including the Cohen probe-and that it's cracking down on compliance problems.

As the New York Times reports, "at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president and continuing to this January". With the recent change in administration, Novartis believed that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain USA healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act. The agreement was for a term of one year, and paid Essential Consultants 100,000 United States dollars per month.

USA communications giant AT&T confirmed on Tuesday evening that it paid President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, for "insights into understanding the new administration".

Now he's facing questions about an agreement with Essential Consultants, a firm founded by Cohen. The statements also read: "Suggestions to the contrary clearly misrepresent the facts and can only be meant to further personal or political agendas". Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis said in emailed statements that it provided all the information Mueller's office requested.

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