A former Playmate, who says she has been emboldened by the #MeToo movement and declining health, has confirmed to The New Yorker that she authored an eight-page, hand-written document about her alleged affair with Donald Trump that the magazine said was quietly buried by the National Enquirer after buying exclusive rights to it.
The deal, which netted Karen McDougal $82,500, has prevented her from discussing the alleged relationship with Trump.
McDougal, who was judged runner-up for “Playmate of the ’90s,” allegedly met Trump in 2006 at the Playboy mansion after Trump had been married to Slovenian model Melania Knauss for less than two years.
She spoke to writer Ronan Farrow, who has written recently about sexual abuse in Hollywood, but was circumspect about details regarding Trump. She acknowledged, however, that she wrote the account of the alleged affair, which Farrow said he obtained from John Crawford, a friend of McDougal’s.
The Wall Street Journal, four days before the 2016 presidential election, reported that American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had paid $150,000 for exclusive rights to McDougal’s story, which it never ran. Buying the rights to a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.”
David Pecker, CEO and chairman of A.M.I., has described Trump as a personal friend.
McDougal, choosing her words carefully, said the emergence of the #MeToo movement and health problems, which she blames on breast implant removal last year, has prompted her to be more conflicted about the moral compromises of silence, The New Yorker says.
“As I was sick and feeling like I was dying and bedridden, all I could do was pray to live. But now I pray to live right, and make right with the wrongs that I have done,” she told Farrow. She also noted the impact women have had in recent months by describing abuses by high-profile men. “I know it’s a different circumstance,” she said, “but I just think I feel braver.”
A.M.I. said, according to the magazine, an amendment to McDougal’s contract — signed after Trump won the election — allowed her to “respond to legitimate press inquiries” regarding the alleged affair. The company said that it did not print the story because it did not find it credible.
McDougal, in her first on-the-record comments about the handling of her story by The National Enquirer, declined to discuss the details of her relationship with Trump, for fear of violating the agreement, the magazine said.
She did say, however, that she regretted signing the contract. “It took my rights away,” McDougal told Farrow. “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.”
In the handwritten account of McDougal’s story, obtained by The New Yorker, she wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me” after their meeting at Hugh Hefner’s mansion, following a taping of Trump TV show The Apprentice. She wrote that their first date was dinner in a private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel that allegedly turned intimate.
“I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man,” she wrote. “We talked for a couple hours — then, it was “ON”! We got naked + had sex.” As she was leaving, according to the account, McDougal writes he offered her money, which she said made her sad, and she declined.
A.M.I. paid her $150,000 for her story. McDougal ended up with $82,500 after other intermediaries to the deal took a cut from the payment, the magazine said. The deal also included promises to publish columns by her and for other appearances in magazines. After Trump won the presidency, however, A.M.I.’s promises largely went unfulfilled, according to McDougal.
The magazine said her story “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.”
The New Yorker said a White House spokesperson said in a statement that Trump denies having had an affair with McDougal. “This is an old story that is just more fake news,” according to the statement. “The president says he never had a relationship with McDougal.”
The article comes in the wake of a report in The New York Times that a porn star, Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels, was paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal lawyer only days before the election as part of a non-disclosure agreement. While Trump lawyer Michael Cohen confirms he “facilitated” the payment to Daniels, he has not disclosed its purpose.
While Daniels has not discussed her alleged relationship with Trump since signing the deal, In-Touch magazine last month published salacious details of an alleged affair with Trump based on earlier interviews with the magazine.
Source: Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
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