The Latest: Look at drugmaker’s $1.2M deal with Trump lawyer

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

Swiss drug giant Novartis says it met with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer only once as part of its $1.2 million payout to his company.

Novartis spokesman Eric Althoff says in an emailed statement that Novartis hired lawyer Michael Cohen for $100,000 a month to consult on health care matters, but determined after a single meeting with Cohen that he wouldn’t be of use.

Althoff says “the decision was taken not to engage further.” But he says the contract couldn’t be terminated, so Novartis kept paying Cohen’s company, Essential Consultants, for a full year.

Cohen has no background in health care or public policy.

Novartis didn’t respond to questions about what services it expected Cohen would provide and why it would have agreed to pay Cohen $1.2 million before hashing out the details of the work.

Althoff says Novartis complied with requests for information about the payments from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators in November.

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2:55 p.m.

The Treasury Department’s internal watchdog says it’s investigating how detailed allegations about the banking records of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer became public.

At issue is an account of bank transactions involving Trump attorney Michael Cohen. The financial information was disclosed on Tuesday night by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represents adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in October 2016 to stay silent about her alleged tryst with Trump in 2006.

Word of the investigation comes from Rich Delmar, general counsel for the department’s inspector general.

Under federal law, financial institutions must monitor their customers’ activities and report suspicious transactions to the government. But that information is supposed to remain confidential.

Delmar says that “if there’s been unauthorized release” of such information, “that is of concern to us.”

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