Ex-Playboy model settles lawsuit over alleged Trump affair
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with President Donald Trump settled her lawsuit Wednesday with a supermarket tabloid over an agreement that prohibited her from discussing the relationship publicly.
Karen McDougal’s settlement with the company that owns the National Enquirer “restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
In August 2016, the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship, but the story never ran.
Last month, McDougal filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles asking to invalidate the contract, which she said she was misled into signing. The suit alleged that the company didn’t publish the story because AMI’s owner, David Pecker, is “close personal friends” with Trump. It also charged that Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, had inappropriately intervened and was secretly involved in discussions with AMI executives about the agreement.
Federal agents raided Cohen’s office and residence last week seeking any information on payments made in 2016 to McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, according to people familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. The search warrants also sought bank records, records on Cohen’s dealings in the taxi industry and his communications with the Trump campaign, the people said.
Under the settlement agreement, McDougal can keep the $150,000 she was paid and AMI has the rights to up to $75,000 for any future profits from her story about the relationship. The company also retains the rights to photographs of McDougal that it already has, the settlement said.
AMI had argued McDougal had been allowed to speak about her relationship since 2016 and the contract gave the company discretion over whether to publish the story.
In an interview with CNN that aired last month, McDougal said Trump tried to pay her after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2006. McDougal said she continued the relationship with Trump for about 10 months and broke it off in April 2007 because she felt guilty.
The White House has said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal. Trump married his current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005, and their son, Barron, was born in 2006.
“My goal from the beginning was to restore my rights and not to achieve any financial gain, and this settlement does exactly that,” McDougal said. “I am relieved to be able to tell the truth about my story when asked, and I look forward to being able to return to my private life and focus on what matters to me.”