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A new piece from Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker reports that, shortly after his son Barron was born, Donald Trump carried on an extramarital affair with then-Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, using a complex system of legal agreements and payoffs by his allies that kept the affair out of the press.
McDougal, who met Trump at a Playboy Mansion party in June 2006, wrote about her relationship with him in an eight-page handwritten document provided to the magazine by her friend John Crawford.
According to Farrow’s reporting on her account:
McDougal wrote that Trump impressed her. “I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man,” she wrote. “We talked for a couple hours – then, it was “ON”! We got naked + had sex.” As McDougal was getting dressed to leave, Trump did something that surprised her. “He offered me money,” she wrote. “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.’ ”
She also recounted that she went to see Trump every time he was in Los Angeles, where he always stayed in the same bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, ordered the same meal of steak and mashed potatoes, and never drank. (The Beverly Hills Hotel is also where Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her.)
McDougal went on to share details about the affair that sound an awful lot like what other women have said about him, depicting him as a man obsessed with his image who would often send her articles about himself or his daughter, Ivanka.
She said she ended the relationship after nine months, and eventually signed a limited life-story rights agreement with American Media, Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer, for $150,000. Her story never ran, which former AMI employees say was by design. It’s part of an tabloid tactic called “catch and kill,” in which you buy rights to a story because you want to bury it, and it’s a favorite of AMI CEO David Pecker, who’s a personal friend of Trump’s. (He also allegedly tried to use this method to help Harvey Weinstein out.) Pecker had previously bragged about keeping McDougal quiet in a 2017 New Yorker story.
A White House spokesperson denied Trump had a relationship with McDougal, calling the reporting “an old story that is just more fake news.”
“The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal,” the spokesperson also said, a denial that—coming from a president whose propensity for telling lies is world famous—leaves plenty to be desired.