Novartis’ Statement on Its Michael Cohen Payments Reveals Eye-Opening Detail About Mueller Probe

May 9, 2018, 7:59 PM UTC

Suddenly sucked into the vortex of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation Tuesday, companies including AT&T and Novartis were revealed to have wired payments to Michael Cohen through the same bank account that President Trump’s personal attorney used to pay a hush agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels.

Seeking to immediately distance itself from the explosive scandal, Novartis issued a statement Wednesday saying that the drug company contracted with Cohen in February for advice on “healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act.” The statement also outlined details of Novartis’s interactions with Cohen, and ended by shining a small ray of light on the otherwise opaque Mueller investigation.

Near the end of Novartis’ statement, the company confirmed that it had been contacted in November 2017 by the special counsel’s office, cooperating with the investigation and providing “all the information requested.” That detail reveals how far ahead of the media and any potential leaks Robert Mueller has kept his investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

In November 2017, while Novartis was working with the special counsel, all eyes were on Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, with speculation running amok about whether he’d plead guilty to lying to the FBI (he did) and whether he’d cooperate with Mueller’s investigation (he is). At that time, Michael Cohen was laying relatively low — which in his case means catching breakfast with Mark Cuban and tweeting about pursing a real estate deal in Russia during the presidential campaign:

It wasn’t until six months later, when the FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel room in April 2018, that Cohen became the central figure in the investigation that he appears to be today.

But what’s central to the public isn’t necessarily so to the special counsel. If investigators are at least six months ahead of White House and media insiders, then the question is: Who’s next? Companies that worked with Cohen like Novartis and AT&T — and there could be more — are no doubt hoping it’s not them.