A report out from the New Yorker Friday morning about President Donald Trump’s alleged affair with model Karen McDougal more than a decade ago shows how Trump’s allies paid women who had affairs with him to stay silent.
Trump and McDougal began an affair in 2006 after he met her at a party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where he taped an episode of “The Apprentice,” according to notes about their relationship the New Yorker obtained from McDougal.
McDougal’s account of her affair with Trump is strikingly similar to reports about Trump’s affair with porn star Stephanie Clifford, who uses the screen name Stormy Daniels.
According to McDougal’s and Clifford’s accounts, Trump pursued both women while married to Melania Trump, and both women met up with him in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos alleged in 2016 that Trump inappropriately kissed and groped her at the same hotel years earlier.)
His allies also arranged payments to both McDougal and Clifford in exchange for their silence, according to reports, and the same lawyer — Keith Davidson — represented both women.
The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen paid Clifford $130,000 as part of an agreement for her to keep quiet about her relationship with Trump. Cohen on Wednesday confirmed that he made a payment in that amount to Clifford, though he would not say why.
According to the New Yorker’s report, American Media, Inc. (AMI), the company that owns the Trump-friendly National Enquirer, purchased the rights to McDougal’s story — for $150,000, as the Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 — but has yet to run her account.
McDougal told the New Yorker that Davidson represented her when she sold the rights to her story to AMI, and said he encouraged her to sign the deal. McDougal said that she now regrets signing the contract, in which AMI promised to feature her on two covers and publish regular columns by McDougal about fitness.
“It took my rights away,” she told the New Yorker. “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.”
McDougal said that she did not fully understand the contract when she signed it. According to emails obtained by the New Yorker, Davidson pushed her to sign the deal to get things “wrapped up.” She also told the New Yorker that AMI has not upheld its commitment to publish her columns regularly, though AMI contended that McDougal did not submit the promised columns.
Trump has denied that he had an affair with either woman. A White House official in January told the Wall Street Journal that allegations of an affair between Trump and Clifford were “old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.” Cohen in January also said that Trump “vehemently” denied having a sexual relationship with Clifford.
A White House spokesperson told the New Yorker that McDougal’s account was “fake news,” and said, “The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal.”
Read the New Yorker’s full report here.