In February, the New Yorker obtained a handwritten diary entry from former Playboy model Karen McDougal detailing an alleged 2006 affair with then-Apprentice host Donald Trump that began at the same celebrity golf tournament where Trump met porn star Stormy Daniels. The National Enquirer — whose parent company, American Media, Inc., is helmed by Trump ally David J. Pecker — purchased the exclusive rights to McDougal’s story on the alleged affair in 2016 and subsequently shelved it in a practice known as “catch and kill.” Now McDougal is suing for the right to break the non-disclosure agreement from the sale of her story and speak out on her alleged affair with the president, the New York Times reports.
Along with Daniels, this makes McDougal the second woman to fight a legal agreement mandating her silence so she can expose an alleged extra-marital relationship with Trump. The similarities don’t end there. From the Times:
Ms. Clifford and Ms. McDougal tell strikingly similar stories about their experiences with Mr. Trump, which included alleged trysts at the same Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006, dates at the same Beverly Hills hotel and promises of apartments as gifts. Their stories first surfaced in the The Wall Street Journal four days before the election, but got little traction in the swirl of news that followed Mr. Trump’s victory. The women even shared the same Los Angeles lawyer, Keith Davidson, who has long worked for clients who sell their stories to the tabloids.
McDougal claims that the Enquirer swooped in with a $150,000 deal while she was considering telling her story to ABC News in the summer of 2016. Along with the story about her affair, McDougal says she was offered the opportunity to write columns about health and fitness to run across various AMI properties, but most of them were never published. Now she’s suing because she claims she didn’t realize that the tabloid might actually have been willfully purchasing her silence and that her attorney misled her about the terms of the agreement. She also believes President Trump’s attack dog attorney Michael Cohen, the same attorney who says he paid Daniels $130,000 out of his own pocket for a “hush agreement,” was “secretly involved” in the negotiations. From the Times:
Ms. McDougal negotiated with the country’s leading tabloid news provider, A.M.I., which is known to buy and bury stories that might damage friends and allies of its chief executive, David J. Pecker, a practice known as “catch and kill.”
Ms. McDougal’s legal complaint alleges that she did not know about the practice, or about Mr. Pecker’s friendship with Mr. Trump, when she began talking to company representatives in spring 2016, shortly after Mr. Trump locked up the Republican nomination.
A.M.I. has previously acknowledged that Mr. Trump had been friends with Mr. Pecker, but said that he had never tried to influence coverage at A.M.I.’s publications.
“The lawsuit filed today aims to restore her right to her own voice,” McDougal’s current attorney Peter Stris said. “We intend to invalidate the so-called contract that American Media Inc. imposed on Karen so she can move forward with the private life she deserves.”
The president has denied both affairs, and his legal team is demanding $20 million in damages from Daniels for breaking an NDA over an affair Trump says never happened.