Magazine obtains ex-playmate's account of Trump affair
NEW YORK (AP) - President Donald Trump had a nine-month extramarital affair with the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the year beginning in 2006, showing the woman his wife's bedroom in Trump Tower and bringing her to his private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to the woman's eight-page, handwritten account of the relationship obtained by The New Yorker magazine.
The woman, Karen McDougal, confirmed in the story published online Friday that she wrote the account but said she was constrained in what else she could say publicly about Trump because she'd signed a confidentiality agreement.
The story said McDougal was paid $150,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign for the rights to her story of an affair with any "then-married man" by the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which never ran it.
Just before Election Day, The Wall Street Journal reported that the tabloid, whose publisher, David Pecker, is a longtime friend of Trump's, had paid for McDougal's story but wasn't printing it, a tabloid industry practice known as "catch and kill."
Former staffers at American Media Inc., the company that publishes the Enquirer and other gossip sites, have told The Associated Press the company often bought the rights to unflattering stories about certain celebrities. The practice, described by six former employees who had participated in such deals, could give Pecker leverage over celebrities so that he could elicit future favors, such as appearing on his magazines' covers.
The former staffers spoke on condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from disclosing company practices.
The company has approached McDougal about extending her contract barring her from talking about Trump in recent months as the behind-the-scenes negotiations to keep porn star Stormy Daniels' allegation of a Trump affair have been made public, the magazine reported.
American Media has said it didn't find McDougal's account of an affair with Trump credible and paid her to write fitness columns. In a statement to The New Yorker, the company denied that having exclusive rights to McDougal's story left it with any influence over the president, saying that contention "while flattering, is laughable."
The White House said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal. The alleged affair occurred not long after Trump married his third wife, Melania, who had recently given birth to a son, the magazine reported.
Daniels, whose real name is Stefanie Clifford, has also said she had an extramarital affair with Trump beginning in 2006. This week, Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he paid Clifford $130,000 with his own money in October 2016 as part of a deal that would keep her from publicly discussing her account.
The same Los Angeles lawyer who represented Clifford in that transaction also represented McDougal in her negotiations with American Media, the magazine said.
McDougal told The New Yorker she regretted signing legal documents that constrained what she could say. "Every girl who speaks is paving the way for another," she told the magazine.
Horwitz reported from Parkland, Florida.