Novartis ex-CEO says regrets hiring, not firing Trump lawyer

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The top executive at Swiss drug making company Novartis is retiring from the company in connection with the $1.2 million it paid to a shadow company owned by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Micheal Cohen a year ago, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Ehrat will be replaced starting from June 1 by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who is now Novartis's ethics, risk and compliance officer. Felix Ehrat, 61, who was general counsel and a member of the Novartis executive committee since 2011, is retiring and will be succeeded by the chief risk and compliance officer, according to a statement released in conjunction with an investor meeting.

"As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end", Ehrat said Wednesday.

Jimenez told Bloomberg that Cohen had "oversold his abilities" in being able to explain the then-new Trump administration's position on healthcare issues.

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The top lawyer for drugmaker Novartis said he'll step down after hiring Trump fixer Michael Cohen's Essential Consultants as an adviser a year ago.

The one-year contract with Essential Consultants - signed in February 2017, shortly after Trump became president - saw Novartis agree to pay Cohen (pictured above) $100,000 (£74,000) per month.

"We should have just definitively parted ways with this guy as soon as we knew he was not going to be a help", said Jimenez, who claimed Cohen told him he no longer worked for Trump at the time of the contract's signing. Cohen approached former Novartis chief executive Joe Jimenez, who authorized the deal, even though Cohen is not a registered lobbyist or an expert in health care matters.

Novartis said its representatives met with Cohen in March 2017. Novartis said it stopped using Essential's services, but couldn't break the contract and paid him for the next 11 months.

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