The Wall Street Journal: Novartis CEO calls hiring Trump lawyer Cohen a ‘mistake’


Novartis AG Chief Executive Vasant Narasimhan said the company “made a mistake” agreeing to pay Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen $1.2 million for what Novartis has described as his insight into health-care policy.

In an email to the Swiss drug company’s NVS, -0.19%   employees on Thursday reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Narasimhan said he felt “frustrated” by the arrangement, which was struck under a previous chief executive. “Many of you will feel disappointed and frustrated,” he said.

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“We made a mistake in entering into this engagement and, as a consequence, are being criticized by a world that expects more from us,” Narasimhan said in the email, which was earlier reported by STAT, a healthcare publication of Boston Globe Media.

Narasimhan, who joined the company in 2005 and became chief executive in February, said he “was not involved in any aspect of this situation.”

Novartis disclosed earlier this week that it paid Cohen’s company Essential Consultants LLC $100,000 a month under the one-year contract, which ended in February.

Read: Michael Cohen’s lawyers attack Avenatti’s memo

The private company was the same one Cohen used to direct $130,000 in October 2016 to a former adult-film actress, who goes by the name Stormy Daniels, to prevent her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. Trump and Cohen deny the encounter took place.

An expanded version of this report appears on

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