Democratic senator demands answers from Novartis over Cohen contract

A key Democratic senator is joining at least one other lawmaker Friday in requesting that pharmaceutical giant Novartis turn over documents relating to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has sent a letter to the CEO of Novartis International requesting documents and information about the company’s payments to Cohen, who had a $1.2 million contract with the company during the beginning of the Trump administration.

“This arrangement raises serious concerns about the length Novartis was willing to go in order to curry favor with this Administration, and perhaps more troublingly, what it expected or was promised in return,” the letter says. Murray’s letter expresses an interest in Cohen’s consulting on “US healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act,” citing a Washington Post story on the matter.

A Novartis spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Friday afternoon that they received the letter and plan to cooperate.

Murray joins Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, who sent a separate letter Friday to Cohen regarding the payments from Novartis to his shell company Essential Consultants.

Novartis was among several companies revealed this week to have had financial connections to Cohen. A source familiar told CNN earlier this week that Cohen had a one-year $1.2 million contract with the company in exchange for access to the White House on health care policy.

Murray’s letter calls the company’s contract with Cohen an attempt to develop “unvetted and unproductive relationships to try to sway government officials in its favor.”

Murray cites a need for transparency from government officials as her reason for the request. She has asked the company to turn over documents by May 25.

She has requested a copy of the contract between Novartis and Essential Consultants, a list of meetings and calls that took place between the two entities, contact with Trump administration officials in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, and any other information about other contracts or payments over $1 million with consultants “to gain access to and insight into the White House or Department of Health and Human Services.”