Former Playboy model Karen McDougal has been let out of the NDA preventing her from discussing her alleged affair with Donald Trump, the New York Times reported this afternoon. The settlement agreement concludes a lawsuit filed by McDougal against American Media Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer, for purposefully misleading her when brokering a $150,00 deal for the rights to her story ahead of the 2016 election. AMI, which is headed by Trump ally David Pecker, had a reputation for arranging “catch and kill” deals in order to squash stories. From the Times:
Under the terms of Wednesday’s settlement, American Media has the right to up to $75,000 of any future profits from her story about the alleged affair, which Mr. Trump denies. According to her lawyer, Peter K. Stris, Ms. McDougal can keep the $150,000 payment and the publisher will retain the rights to photographs of her that it already has.
“It’s a total win,” Mr. Stris said in an interview. “We got everything we were fighting for — she got out of the contract, gets the life rights back and owes A.M.I. nothing more.”
McDougal said that she’s not currently thinking about selling the story of the alleged affair to a new buyer. “It’s one step at a time for me,” McDougal said. “Today, I’m doing my victory dance.”
McDougal’s suit alleged that Trump’s embattled consigliere Michael Cohen was working behind the scenes with her then attorney Keith Davidson and AMI to put together a deal intended to silence her. Earlier this month, AMI seemed eager to fight McDougal, petitioning the Los Angeles Superior Court to throw out her suit. That was about a week before the FBI raided Cohen’s office and seized, according to the beliefs of sources close to the case, are records pertaining to AMI and its deal with McDougal.
So why did the tabloid empire suddenly became much more amenable to McDougal’s demands? Keep in mind that AMI has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and comparable man hours to protecting Trump from unflattering stories, but have now sold him out for, essentially, $75,000. Prior to the raid, McDougal’s attorney answered the motion to dismiss the case with a request to begin pretrial discovery which would have compelled AMI to turn over records, emails, and other materials pertaining to the agreement with McDougal. Because of the settlement AMI just reached today with McDougal, they don’t have to turn over any internal documents, at least in regards to this particular case. The media company is the subject of a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing it of making an illegal campaign contribution when it paid McDougal in order to kill an unflattering story about a presidential candidate. That’s in addition to whatever may come up in the FBI’s investigation of Michael Cohen.
AMI has saved itself some trouble. For Trump and Cohen, it’s only just beginning.