Novartis legal head resigns over Cohen payments

Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass. speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington Tuesday

Novartis general counsel steps down over drugmaker's $1.2 million contract with Michael Cohen

A statement from Novartis said Ehrat was retiring because of questions in the U.S. about the company's former agreement with Essential Consultants, which is owned by Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

"Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error", Mr. Ehrat said. "As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end", Mr. Ehrat said in a statement.

A news story from Bloomberg reports that Narasimhan has responded to the scandal by inviting 5,000 senior Novartis managers to a conference call, in which he stressed the need for the company to regain public trust and change how it works with consultants and lobbyists.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she was paid $130,000 by Cohen to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

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In a statement Novartis added that the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee have "the greatest respect" for Ehrat's decision to step down.

In a statement, Novartis said that Felix R. Ehrat, the group general counsel, will be replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is now the company's top ethics officer, at the beginning of June.

"After my team met with him individually, it was clear that he oversold his abilities".

USA special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the payments as a strand of his wider investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign. The company has said it quickly determined that Cohen's business would be unable to provide the services it anticipated and decided not to engage further, but was contractually bound to keep making monthly payments of $100,000.

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Jimenez said in the interview that a "third party" had recommended Cohen to Novartis, declining to identify that person.

"That was a mistake", said Jimenez who admitted the firm should have "parted ways" with Cohen as soon as it became apparent he could not help.

Public Citizen, a liberal government watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Justice Department and officials on Capitol Hill earlier this week, asking them to look into whether Cohen violated FARA or the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the USA lobbying law, which is overseen by House and Senate record-keeping offices.

It was revealed that the telecommunications giant made $600,000 in payments to Cohen's firm, Essential Consultants.

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After the election, drug companies proactively sought to develop policy proposals amid a commitment to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Jimenez said.

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