Donald Trump kept his alleged affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal secret through a complex web of legal arrangements, pay-offs, and secret meetings, according to an explosive new report by Ronan Farrow.
The report—published early Friday morning in The New Yorker—contains McDougal’s first on record comments about the complicated arrangements made to cover up alleged their affair, with the former model saying she now regrets selling the rights to her story to a publisher which never ran it as it's made her “afraid to even mention [Trump's] name.”
The New Yorker obtained an eight-page document handwritten by McDougal with excruciating details of the alleged affair. Her allegations include claiming that Trump offered to pay her for sex, made her pay for flights for which he later reimbursed her to avoid a paper trail coming back to him, and that Trump made racist and derogatory comments to her friends.
The report also shines light on a $150,000 transaction between McDougal and American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, for the exclusive rights to her story—a story which never ran.
Former A.M.I employees told the New Yorker the tactic is known as a “catch and kill”—buying stories with no intention of running them, but using them for leverage over the subject of the story. The CEO and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, has described the President as “a personal friend.”
McDougal said she now regrets the arrangement with A.M.I., telling the New Yorker: “It took my rights away. At this point I feel I can’t talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about. I’m afraid to even mention his name.”
A.M.I. responded that McDougal’s contract allowed her to “respond to legitimate press inquiries” regarding the alleged affair, and told The New Yorker that it didn't print the story because it didn't find it credible.
McDougal's handwritten notes allege that she met Trump at a pool party at the Playboy Mansion in 2006, a year after he married Melania Knauss. After “immediately” taking a liking to her, McDougal claimed the two talked frequently on the phone and had dinner at a private bungalow in the Beverly Hills Hotel where she claims they had sex for the first time.
She wrote of that meeting between the two: “He offered me money. I looked at him (+ felt sad) + said, ‘No thanks - I’m not ‘that girl.’ I slept w/you because I like you - NOT for money’ - He told me ‘you are special.’ ”
McDougal’s story is strikingly similar to other women who have said they've had affairs with Trump. Stephanie Clifford and former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos have also said Trump brought them to the Beverly Hills Hotel, and they were all escorted there by a Trump bodyguard two of the women have identified as Keith Schiller.
Trump denies that he ever had a relationship with McDougal.
McDougal goes on to detail how Trump attempted to ensure he didn't create any paper trails which would expose the affair. “No paper trails for him,” she wrote in her handwritten notes. “In fact, every time I flew to meet him, I booked/paid for flight + hotel + he reimbursed me.”
She also wrote about how she attended events with Trump's family, writing of one such event at the Playboy Mansion that Trump asked his son Eric who he thought was the most attractive woman there. “Eric pointed me. Mr. T said ‘He has great taste’ + we laughed!” she wrote.
During a personal tour of Trump Tower given by the now president, McDougal claimed that Trump pointed to Melania’s separate bedroom, explaining that “she liked her space to read or be alone.”
McDougal’s affair with Trump came to an end in April 2007 after, The New Yorker reported, she began to feel guilt and Trump had made a number of personal comments which upset her. Trump is reported to have called her mother “an old hag” despite the two being of similar age, and multiple sources say he made a racist and derogatory comment to McDougal's friend.
When Trump and McDougal were sharing a limousine with her friend, the friend mentioned she was in a relationship with a black man. Trump is reported to have said the friend liked “the big black dick” and began commenting on her breast size.
McDougal told The New Yorker that a recent illness and the #MeToo movement have encouraged her to speak up now about the alleged affair, despite the agreement with A.M.I. “As I was sick and feeling like I was dying and bedridden, all I could do was pray to live. But now I pray to live right, and make right with the wrongs that I have done,” she said.
“Every girl who speaks,” she said, “is paving the way for another.”