The CEO of Novartis apologized to employees for the company’s payments to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.
“We made a mistake in entering into this engagement and, as a consequence, are being criticized by a world that expects more from us,” wrote Vasant Narasimhan, the Swiss drugmaker’s chief executive. Novartis shared the Thursday email, which was first reported by STAT, with POLITICO.
Novartis has garnered widespread criticism this week over the revelation that it paid Cohen $1.2 million in a yearlong contract in an attempt to gain insight into the Trump administration. The drugmaker, along with other companies like AT&T, made payments to a Cohen shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, that was used for a hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.
Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, first revealed the nature of the payments.
“Personally and for my family, yesterday was also a difficult day, as unfounded stories spread through the US news. While I was not involved with any aspect of this situation, the facts did not matter. I went to sleep frustrated and tired,” Narasimhan wrote. “But I woke up this morning full of determination.”
He said he knew employees were likely “disappointed and frustrated.” The arrangement was set up before Narasimhan took over as CEO in February. Novartis previously said it had met with Cohen only once but was bound to continue the payments.
Novartis acknowledged earlier this week that it had cooperated last year with questioning in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference.