Former Playboy model Karen McDougal is suing to break her silence about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump. McDougal came forward with claims that she and Trump had a brief fling in 2006 after he married Melania.
The New York Times reports that the former Playboy model is suing to be released from a 2016 legal agreement with American Media, Inc., which paid her $150,000 for her silence about the alleged affair. The media giant owns the National Enquirer and its chief executive, David J. Pecker, is a friend of Trump's.
As the Times notes, Karen McDougal is the second woman this month to "challenge Trump allies' efforts during the presidential campaign to bury stories about extramarital relationships." Stephanie Clifford, famously known as Stormy Daniels, has also alleged an affair with Trump. The adult entertainment star was paid $130,000 by the president's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. She filed suit so she can speak publicly about her claims. Last week, Trump's legal team threatened Daniels with $20 million in penalties linked to her agreement.
President Trump has denied affairs with both women.
Karen McDougal filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that Cohen was "secretly involved in her talks with A.M.I., and that the media company and her lawyer at the time misled her about the deal," according to the Times. McDougal maintains that after she spoke with the New Yorker last month once it had acquired notes she held on Trump, A.M.I. warned that "any further disclosures would breach Karen's contract" and "cause considerable monetary damages."
#BREAKING: Ex-Playboy model sues for right to break silence on alleged Trump affair https://t.co/4EM42gwe9K pic.twitter.com/KdzFr4w0ns
— The Hill (@thehill) March 20, 2018
The former Playboy model's attorney, Peter K. Stris, accuses A.M.I. of "a multifaceted effort" to cover up the story. The purpose of the lawsuit is to "restore" Karen McDougal's right to "her own voice," Stris wrote in an email to the Times.
McDougal is arguing that the contract is invalid and wants to move forward with her life, the email states.
The alleged affairs Donald Trump had with Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford occurred around the same time. Their alleged encounters with him were at the same Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006 and at the same Beverly Hills hotel. He also reportedly offered to gift each of them an apartment. The pair once hired the same Los Angeles lawyer, Keith Davidson, who's known to take on clients who sell their stories to tabloids.
Karen McDougal believes she was part of a "catch and kill" practice when she negotiated terms of her agreement with A.M.I. in 2016. The practice involved the media company buying and burying stories "that might damage friends and allies of its chief executive." McDougal's lawsuit claims she didn't know about the practice or about David Pecker's friendship with Donald Trump. McDougal's attorney asserts in the lawsuit that his client was "tricked" into signing the agreement with A.M.I. and "misled" about its contents.