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Two days after Karen McDougal filed suit against National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. to be released from a nondisclosure agreement, the former Playboy playmate sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to discuss her alleged affair with President Donald Trump across 10 months in 2006 and 2007.
McDougal is the second woman claiming to have had an affair with President Trump and to have signed an NDA restricting her ability to discuss it. Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film actress who goes by the stage name Stormy Daniels, has also sued Trump to end her 2016 NDA, which she claims was voided when his attorney Michael Cohen discussed it. That would, her lawyer argues, would allow her to discuss the alleged affair. Clifford is scheduled to appear on Anderson Cooper 360 on March 25.
Cooper began the interview by reviewing the start of the alleged relationship, which McDougal said began when Trump was filming a scene of The Celebrity Apprentice at the Playboy Mansion. She repeated details that previously appeared in a February New Yorker story, which was informed by an eight-page handwritten note penned by her and provided by a friend to the publication. In the note McDougal said she had an affair with President Trump in 2006 and 2007 and alleged that Trump met her often in L.A., took her to events and introduced her to family and friends. McDougal said she ended the relationship.
McDougal told Cooper that she first began to feel strange about the alleged relationship with Trump on the night of their first date, when she was expecting to go to dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but Trump’s bodyguard took her to a bungalow. “I think that first night I was concerned because I didn’t expect we were going to go to a hotel room,” McDougal said. “I think at that moment I began to think something else is going on.” At the time, Trump was married to his current wife, Melania, who had just given birth to their son, Baron.
However, McDougal said she met Trump again after the first meeting because he made her feel better about herself at a time when she was in a “bad place in life.” “What everyone sees on TV, I didn’t see in that man,” she said, saying he was “charming” and “sweet.” She then went on to say that Trump wasn’t motivated to hide the relationship, even cooing when she said she had told her sister about their affair.
When Cooper asked McDougal whether she was in love with Trump, she said she was. As for him: “He always told me he loved me,” she said, adding that he would call her “baby” or “beautiful Karen.” She alleged she saw him at least five times a month for 10 months and that he did not use protection during sex.
McDougal told Cooper she met Melania Trump once, at an Apprentice release party at the Playboy Mansion, and showed Cooper a photograph of the two and Ivanka Trump standing in a group at the party. She also brought a photograph showing her with Eric Trump at a Trump Vodka release party. When Cooper asked if she had other documentation of the alleged relationship, she replied, “If you’re in a loving relationship, do you try and collect evidence?”
When asked about Stephanie Clifford’s allegations about meeting Trump and having an extramarital relationship with him at a Lake Tahoe golf championship, where McDougal has also alleged she met Trump, McDougal said she was confused about Clifford’s story. “My first thought was how could she be with him when I was with him?” McDougal said. She claimed that she was with Trump at every moment during the contest except for when he went to the course. She added that she remembered Trump telling her there were a “bunch of porn stars” at one event.
McDougal claims that when she first went to American Media, Inc. with her story after a friend began posting about it on social media in 2011, she passed on the AMI deal and spoke with ABC News, which was interested. She said she got cold feet, in part because she still felt loyal to Trump and didn’t want to tarnish her image. “I don’t want to hurt anybody,” she said. When AMI came back to her in 2016, again offering her a deal for her life rights, this time with a column deal attached, she accepted the offer because it would keep her brand “wholesome.”
On Tuesday McDougal filed suit against American Media, Inc., claiming the organization, helmed by CEO and Trump friend David J. Pecker, paid her $150,000 to keep silent. “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 said in the suit.
AMI has denied McDougal’s claims, calling them “completely without merit” and claiming McDougal has been free to speak about her alleged relationship with Trump since 2016.
McDougal added that she was a lifelong Republican and voted for Trump, whom she called “my president.”
She said that the point of her lawsuit against AMI, rather, was not political but to get her life rights back: “I want to share my story because everybody else is talking about it,” she said. Though Clifford’s story took a little bit of the fear of telling the story away, she said, she probably would have come forward anyway after she learned more about her contract with AMI.
McDougal said she didn’t have any regrets about the relationship, except that Trump was married at the time. When Cooper asked McDougal what she would want Melania Trump to know if she watched the interview, McDougal responded with tears in her eyes. “What can you say except I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t want it done to me. I’m sorry,” she said.
The White House has denied McDougal’s claims, calling them “more fake news” and saying Trump never had a relationship with McDougal.
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