Drug company Novartis paid Trump's lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen over one million dollars for a single meeting with Trump.
Michael Cohen, Trump's fixer and personal lawyer, was the front man for an operation that brought in $1.2 million from pharmaceutical giant Novartis. After the money changed hands, the company met just once with Cohen, and the CEO later met one-on-one with Trump.
Stat News reports from an insider that soon after Trump was inaugurated, Cohen "reached out" to Novartis' then-CEO Joe Jimenez and offered access to the Trump administration and top officials.
The company signed a $1.2 million contract with Cohen soon after.
"We were trying to find an inroad into the administration," a Novartis employee told Stat News. "Cohen promised access to not just Trump, but also the circle around him."
There was only one meeting between Cohen and Novartis' government relations team. The company then chose to let the contract lapse.
Thus it had paid over a million dollars that the shareholders entrusted the company to spend on a single meeting.
Still, Novartis was not left out in the cold. In January 2018, Novartis' incoming CEO, Vas Narasimhan, met with Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The money transfers have come under the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller. After his team met with Novartis, the company released a statement saying it "cooperated fully" with the ongoing investigation.
The transactions came to public light when porn actress Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, released a document with a timeline showing Cohen received money from Novartis after paying off Daniels to keep silent about her affair with Trump.
Thus, these funds from Cohen's corporate kickbacks were sloshing around in his account at the same time he had already paid out $130,000 to Daniels to keep Trump's bedroom secrets quiet.
Avenatti also indicated a $500,000 payment to Cohen from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
AT&T has also confirmed a payment of $200,000 to Cohen that was listed in Avenatti's document. In a statement, the company said the money was paid to Cohen at the beginning of Trump's presidency "to provide insights into understanding the new administration."
What the verified payments show is that despite his hollow rhetoric of "draining the swamp," almost before the ink was dry on his inauguration documents, access to Trump was up for sale.
And notably, both AT&T and Novartis were directly affected by major legislation and policies that were under consideration by Trump, including health care and the pending merger of AT&T with Time Warner.
The entire mess is an ethical nightmare. But it follows Trump's example, as he has refused to abide by the same ethical business guidelines of previous presidents.
Trump and his inner circle are in multiple compromising positions, from the corporate access through Cohen, to Trump's golf courses and resorts that he uses his presidency to advertise, to his Washington hotel that rakes in money from Republicans and foreign dignitaries trying to influence him.
Under Trump, the swamp has not drained. It is overflowing. As are his lawyer's bank accounts.