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A former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday to be released from her nondisclosure agreement, according to a complaint first obtained by The New York Times.
McDougal filed suit against American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer, and reportedly wants to be released from a 2016 legal agreement in which she agreed to keep silent.
She claims in her suit that A.M.I paid her $150,000 for her silence. She also notes that AMI’s chief executive, David J. Pecker, is a friend of the president’s.
“A.M.I lied to me, made empty promises, and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me,” McDougal said in a statement. “I just want the opportunity to set the record straight and move on with my life, free from this company, its executives, and its lawyers.”
McDougal is now the second woman pursuing legal action in order to be able to speak about an alleged affair with Trump.
“A quarter billion dollar company posing as a media organization systematically intimidated and silenced Karen McDougal in order to achieve its political and financial ends, and she will no longer be quiet,” McDougal’s attorney, Peter K. Stris, said in a statement. “Through efforts including the collusion of her own lawyer, A.M.I has consistently deceived and manipulated Ms. McDougal through an illegitimate contract. We are confident that the so-called contract will be invalidated, and are eager for Ms. McDougal to be able to move forward with her life with the privacy she deserves.”
The first woman seeking to end her NDA, adult entertainment star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels), was paid $130,000 by the president’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen. She is trying to raise money via a crowdfunded website to pay for her legal expenses as she tries to speak out, even offering to return the money she was originally paid.
The White House has called Daniels’ allegations false. It has yet to comment on McDougal.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, an American Media Inc. spokesperson called McDougal’s claims “completely without merit.” “Karen McDougal has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with President Trump since 2016,” read the statement from AMI. “Thus, the suggestion that AMI ‘silenced’ her is completely without merit.”
The statement continued, in part: “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. … We have been very proud of Karen McDougal and our work with her. The relationship has produced good journalism and content for our publications. And until very recently, it was our understanding that Ms. McDougal was satisfied with our editorial approach to her work with AMI’s publications. Her lawsuit is the first time AMI has learned of her desire to go a different direction. AMI has a valid contract with Karen and we look forward to reaching an amicable resolution satisfactory to her and to AMI.”
CNN announced later on Tuesday that Anderson Cooper will be interviewing McDougal on Anderson Cooper 360° on Thursday night.
Read the full complaint obtained by The Times here.
3 p.m.: Updated to include McDougal’s planned CNN appearance.
3:50 p.m.: Updated to include statement from American Media Inc.
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