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Novartis GC Out Following Revelation of Company Payments to Trump Lawyer

[caption id="attachment_13357" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Photo: Andrew via Wikipedia[/caption] Felix Ehrat will exit Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis next month, the company announced Wednesday. Ehrat, Novartis' group general counsel, along with the company’s former chief executive Joe Jimenez, signed off on a $1.2 million contract with President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in early 2017. Cohen has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks as it was uncovered that he was running Essential Consultants, a firm that connected individuals and businesses, Novartis among them, to Trump. "Although the contract was legally in order, it was an error,” Ehrat, GC since 2011, said in the announcement of his retirement. “As a co-signatory with our former CEO, I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on this matter to an end." Ehrat did not immediately respond to an email requesting further comment. Shannon Thyme Klinger, a former litigator at Alston & Bird and Mayer Brown who currently serves as Novartis’ chief ethics, risk and compliance officer, will assume the role of group general counsel, effective June 1. In Wednesday’s announcement, Novartis CEO Vasant Narasimhan said Ehrat was “instrumental in further developing the global legal department” and “played a key role in the executive committee with his proven expertise.” “The Novartis leadership owes him considerable thanks for his many contributions and wishes him all the best in his future endeavors,” Narasimhan said. Telecom giant AT&T also paid Cohen for consulting services. It reportedly paid $600,000 to the attorney for advice on its merger with Time Warner. As a result, AT&T’s head of lobbying Bob Quinn departed from the company and it was announced that general counsel David McAtee will now oversee external and legislative affairs. AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson this past week said, in a memo to employees, that “hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake.”