LOS ANGELES (CN) – A former Playboy model sued The National Enquirer’s publisher Tuesday, saying she wants out of a hush agreement they foisted on her to keep her alleged 2006 affair with now-President Donald Trump a secret.
Karen McDougal, 46, says she had a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007. According to her lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, she went on about her life until Trump became the GOP presidential candidate a decade later and “he and his allies did not want news of the relationship to undermine his campaign.”
“So tabloid giant American Media, Inc. worked secretly with Mr. Trump’s personal “fixer” and Ms. McDougal’s own lawyer to buy Ms. McDougal’s silence. Ms. McDougal received $150,000 (nearly half of which went to the lawyer, who she did not realize was colluding with the other side) and a false promise to jumpstart her career as a health and fitness model,” McDougal says in her lawsuit.
American Media publishes The National Enquirer.
McDougal says her affair with Trump started to become public after another former Playboy model, Carrie Stevens, spilled the beans about McDougal’s relationship with Trump on May 7, 2016, in a series of public comments on Twitter. McDougal says then hired an attorney, Keith Davidson, so she could tell her story. She was told “the rights to publish her story were worth millions,” according to the lawsuit.
She says met with a senior executive of American Media, who after interviewing her said the tabloid had no interest in purchasing her story.
McDougal says she did not know the publisher updated Trump as to the details of the interview.
When it became clear that McDougal was in talks with in negotiations with ABC and investigative journalist Brian Ross to tell her story, American Media offered her a contract for $150,000 to appear on the cover of “Men’s Fitness” and “Muscle and Fitness Hers” and for her to write a monthly column, according to the lawsuit, which includes copies of the contract with American Media for the column.
McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year, says American Media worked with Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to broker a deal for her silence. She says she’s been threatened with “financial ruin” if she does not honor the agreement and claims the publisher has profited from her situation by giving “reporters false information about Ms. McDougal, her relationship with Mr. Trump, and its own machinations to bind her to silence.”
However, McDougal says there’s been nothing but “radio silence” about being on magazine covers and to writing the monthly column.
She also accuses Davidson, her former lawyer, of having worked for Trump to “catch and kill” unfavorable stories. Davidson is not a party to this complaint, and she is now represented by Peter Stris of Stris and Maher in Los Angeles.
She seeks a declaration voiding her agreement with American Media.
In a statement, an American Media representative said McDougal has been free to speak to the press about her alleged relationship with Trump since 2016. Tuesday’s complaint is the first time the publisher has heard McDougal is unhappy with the terms of her contract, according to the representative.
“Thus, the suggestion that AMI ‘silenced’ her is completely without merit. Rather, Karen signed a contract that gave AMI the editorial discretion to publish her life story, and she promised to write health and fitness columns and appear on the cover of two magazines,” the statement said.
Emails sent to the Trump Organization and Cohen seeking comment received no response by press time. Neither are parties to McDougal’s complaint.
McDougal’s 23-page lawsuit comes on the heels of efforts by adult film star Stormy Daniels to get out of a similar hush agreement. Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, sued to break away from a $130,000 “hush” agreement with Trump’s lawyer and a third-party limited liability company created to broker that deal, according to a lawsuit also filed in Los Angeles.
On March 16, Trump asked to have the case removed to federal court and says Clifford owes him $20 million for breaching the contract by speaking to the media numerous times.