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Report: Michael Cohen signed $1.2 million deal with drugmaker to provide access to Trump

President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, reportedly signed a $1.2 million contract with drugmaker Novartis in February 2017 on the promise that he could help the company gain access to the president and administration insiders. "He reached out to us," a Novartis employee told Stat, adding: "It was almost as if we were hiring him as a lobbyist."

On Tuesday night, The New York Times initially reported that Cohen's Essential Consultants LLC had at least $4.4 million pass through it, including $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a New York investment firm with deep ties to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Documents provided by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, showed some $400,000 from Novartis passed through Essential Consultants between early 2017 and 2018. Vekselberg and officials at Novartis have reportedly been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.

In a statement, Novartis said it "cooperated fully" and "provided all the information requested." Cohen is under federal investigation for financial crimes.

Novartis eventually let its one-year contract with Cohen expire after a disappointing meeting with him in March 2017. "At first, it all sounded impressive, but toward the end of the meeting, everyone realized this was probably a slippery slope to engage him," the Novartis employee told Stat. Read more about Cohen's contract here.