Former Playboy model Karen McDougal sues to break her silence about her extramarital affair with Trump.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that “A former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Donald J. Trump sued on Tuesday to be released from a 2016 legal agreement requiring her silence, becoming the second woman this month to challenge Trump allies’ efforts during the presidential campaign to bury stories about extramarital relationships.”
Continuing, The New York Times reported that:
The model, Karen McDougal, is suing the company that owns The National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which paid her $150,000 and whose chief executive is a friend of President Trump’s. The other woman, the adult entertainment star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 to stay quiet by the president’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen. She filed suit earlier this month.
Both women, who argue that their contracts are invalid, are trying to get around clauses requiring them to resolve disputes in secretive arbitration proceedings rather than in open court.
An explosive February report by Ronan Farrow, published by The New Yorker, detailed Trump’s alleged affair with McDougal and Trump’s efforts to conceal that affair from wife, Melania.
According to Farrow, McDougal memorialized the affair “in an eight-page, handwritten document provided to The New Yorker by John Crawford, a friend of McDougal’s.”
Farrow wrote that: “When I showed McDougal the document, she expressed surprise that I had obtained it but confirmed that the handwriting was her own.”
McDougal explained to Farrow that she met Trump in 2006 while he was taping an episode of “The Apprentice” at the Playboy mansion.
As Farrow wrote:
At the time of the party, Trump had been married to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss for less than two years; their son, Barron, was a few months old. Trump seemed uninhibited by his new family obligations. McDougal later wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me – telling me how beautiful I was, etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, ‘Wow, he was all over you – I think you could be his next wife.’”
The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had s*xual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for s*x or s*xually harassing them. McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual. But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs—sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously—out of the press.
One such tactic described by McDougal is what is called: “catch and kill.”
On November 4, 2016, four days before the election, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had paid a hundred and fifty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.” This is a favorite tactic of the C.E.O. and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, who describes the President as “a personal friend.”
McDougal, in her first on-the-record comments about A.M.I.’s handling of her story, declined to discuss the details of her relationship with Trump, for fear of violating the agreement she reached with the company. She did say, however, that she regretted signing the contract. “It took my rights away,” McDougal told me. “At this point I feel I can’t talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about. I’m afraid to even mention his name.”
Farrow goes on to explain that she spoke with six former employees of A.M.I. who told her that:
Pecker routinely makes catch-and-kill arrangements like the one reached with McDougal. “We had stories and we bought them knowing full well they were never going to run,” Jerry George, a former A.M.I. senior editor who worked at the company for more than twenty-five years, told me. George said that Pecker protected Trump. “Pecker really considered him a friend,” George told me. “We never printed a word about Trump without his approval.”
The article went on to provide details of Trump’s alleged affair with McDougal. In one disturbing passage, Farrow explained that McDougal reminded Trump of his daughter Ivanka.
McDougal’s account, like those of Clifford and other women who have described Trump’s advances, conveys a man preoccupied with his image. McDougal recalled that Trump would often send her articles about him or his daughter, as well as signed books and sun visors from his golf courses. Clifford recalled Trump remarking that she and Ivanka were similar and proudly showing her a copy of a “money magazine” with his image on the cover.
McDougal, a Republican, also explained to Farrow about her hesitancy to speak out about the affair, which she ended after nine months in April 2007 and her decision to speak out now.
McDougal, who says she is a Republican, told me that she was reluctant at first to tell her story, because she feared that other Trump supporters might accuse her of fabricating it, or might even harm her or her family. She also said that she didn’t want to get involved in the heated Presidential contest. “I didn’t want to influence anybody’s election,” she told me. “I didn’t want death threats on my head.” Crawford was only able to persuade her to consider speaking about the relationship after a former friend of McDougal’s began posting about the affair on social media. “I didn’t want someone else telling stories and getting all the details wrong,” McDougal said.