A former Playboy model is sick of being silenced about her alleged affair with Donald Trump

By Diane Herbst
March 20, 2018 06:46 PM
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A former Playboy Playmate who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump sued the company that owns the National Enquirer on Tuesday so she could break her silence about the alleged 2006 tryst.

Karen McDougal, the ex-Playboy model, is suing American Media Inc., which she says paid her $150,000 for her story about the 10-month relationship with Trump and then withheld it from publication, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by PEOPLE.

A.M.I’s chief executive, David Pecker, has described Trump as a “personal friend,” according to The New Yorker.

McDougal is the second woman who was reportedly paid by people close to Trump shortly before the presidential election to keep an alleged affair with him a secret. And both women used attorney Keith Davidson to broker their deals. McDougal alleges in her suit that Davidson was working in concert with Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen to keep her quiet.

Porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, received a payment of $130,000 from Cohen days before the election and signed a nondisclosure agreement to block her from talking about her alleged months-long affair with Trump in 2006. She also filed suit against Trump on March 6, claiming the agreement was rendered invalid because the president never signed the document himself.

Donald Trump and Karen McDougal
| Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

McDougal alleges that she was misled by American Media Inc., who worked secretly with “Mr. Trump’s personal ‘fixer’ ” — his lawyer Cohen — and her lawyer, Davidson, to buy her silence with the “false promise to jump start her career as a health and fitness model.”

She also says that she was warned by A.M.I. after she spoke with The New Yorker last month that “any further disclosures would break Karen’s contract” and “cause considerable monetary damages,” according to court documents.

McDougal said in a statement to PEOPLE that American Media Inc. “lied to me, made empty promises, and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me.

“I just want the opportunity to set the record straight and move on with my life, free from this company, its executives, and its lawyers,” she said.

McDougal’s current lawyer, Peter Stris, tells PEOPLE in an emailed statement that A.M.I. “systematically intimidated and silenced” McDougal “in order to achieve its political and financial ends, and she will no longer be quiet.”

“Through efforts including the collusion of her own lawyer, A.M.I. has consistently deceived and manipulated Ms. McDougal through an illegitimate contract,” he says in the statement. “We are confident that the so-called contract will be invalidated.”

A.M.I. did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.

Trump has denied he’s had an affair with Daniels and with McDougal.

Stormy Daniels
| Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty

Stormy Daniels Is Suing President Trump Over ‘Null and Void’ Nondisclosure Agreement

On May 7, 2016, four days after Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, former Playboy playmate Carrie Stevens revealed an alleged relationship between McDougal and Trump on Twitter.

McDougal, who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, wanted to take control of the story, according to the suit, so she hired entertainment lawyer Keith Davidson. He “assured her that the rights to publish her story were worth millions. Unknown to Ms. McDougal, Mr. Davidson was working closely with representatives for Mr. Trump while pretending to advocate on her behalf,” according to the suit.

Davidson told McDougal that A.M.I. “had deposited $500,000 in an escrow account toward a seven-figure contract that would be presented to her in person in Los Angeles,” according to court documents.

McDougal then met with Dylan Howard, an A.M.I. executive, with whom she spent hours sharing her story. In the end, Howard declined to offer her a deal. Davidson “later admitted that the $500,000 escrow account was a complete fabrication,” the complaint says.

McDougal then took her story to ABC News, and signed a confidentiality agreement with the network to tell her story.

Soon after, A.M.I. decided to buy McDougal’s story, but not publish it because A.M.I.’s owner, Pecker, “is close personal friends with Mr. Trump,” the court papers say.

In August of 2016, A.M.I. offered McDougal $150,000 — 45 percent of which her attorney, Davidson, would keep. The deal would guarantee McDougal, a fitness model, two magazine covers, including one on Men’s Fitness, which is owned by A.M.I., and feature more than 100 of her articles in A.M.I.’s various publications.

Howard and Davidson told McDougal this part of the deal would be a “big opportunity” because she was “old now,” and promised they would “kickstart and revitalize your career,” according to the lawsuit. (McDougal at the time was 45.)

They told her, “These articles and columns will be great and ongoing exposure for you, because people read them,” and that they would “develop your brand.”

What A.M.I. and Davidson didn’t tell McDougal is that the contract’s fine print did not actually obligate A.M.I. to run her columns, according to the complaint. McDougal later learned from a New York Times article that after she signed the contract in August of 2016, Davidson emailed Cohen and asked him to call him.

“He then told Mr. Cohen on the phone that the deal was done — Ms. McDougal had been silenced,” the court documents say.

And days before the election in November 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that A.M.I. paid McDougal $150,000 for her story but never published it.