Ex-Playmate Karen McDougal Sues Over Trump Affair Hush Payoff

CYBERSPACE—Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playboy Magazine Playmate of the Year who says that she had a 10-month affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and 2007, has filed a lawsuit that would allow her to break her public silence on the affair. In her lawsuit—which may be read in PDF format at this link—she says that the National Enquirer tricked her into taking a $150,000 payoff to sell the rights to her affair story once Trump became a presidential candidate.

But after paying her, the tabloid suppressed the story, effectively silencing McDougal, in what is known as a “catch and kill,” a technique sometimes used by tabloids and publicists to shield celebrities from damaging stories becoming public.

McDougal also charges that her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson, colluded with the tabloid as well as with Trump’s personal “fixer” Michael Cohen, to pressure into signing what the lawsuit calls a “fraudulent and illegal contract.” The lawsuit says that Davidson took 50 percent of the $150,000 payment from the Enquirer, which is owned by David Pecker, a close personal friend of Trump.

Davidson is also the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels when she received a $130,000 “hush money” payoff from Cohen to keep quiet about her own alleged affair with Trump—an affair that ran concurrently with the Trump-McDougal liaison in 2006 and 2007.

Davidson no longer represents either Daniels or McDougal. Daniels, of course, has also files a lawsuit to be freed from the “hush” agreement that she signed about her own affair with Trump.

McDougal’s current lawyer, Peter K. Stris, told The New York Times that the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., has engaged in “a multifaceted effort to silence Karen McDougal” and that the lawsuit will “invalidate the so-called contract that American Media Inc. imposed on Karen so she can move forward with the private life she deserves.”

McDougal in the lawsuit alleges that after McDougal told her story to New Yorker journalist Ronan Farrow in an article published last month, American Media Inc. threatened her with “financial ruin” for breaking the agreement—a threat that the company has made against her repeatedly, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit outlines numerous similarities between McDougal’s experiences and Daniels’, in relation to Trump — including the involvement of Davidson in both payoffs—and also comes on the same day that a judge in New York ruled that a defamation suit against Trump by former Apprentice cast member Summer Zervos, will be allowed to proceed.

Zervos is one of 19 women who have charged that Trump sexually assaulted or harassed them. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump labeled her and the other women “horrible, horrible liars.” He also called her allegations “pure fiction.” Zervos last year filed a defamation suit against Trump, and Trump’s lawyers responded by claiming that Trump’s statements were protected political speech. But on Tuesday, a judge disagreed.