Trials & Litigation

Ex-Playboy model settles suit claiming faulty lawyering nixed her deal to remain silent on Trump

  • Print.

Karen McDougal. Photo by Toglenn, via Wikimedia Commons.

A former Playboy model reached a settlement with the publisher of the National Enquirer on Wednesday allowing her to go public with allegations of an affair in 2006 with President Donald Trump.

Karen McDougal won’t have to return the $150,000 she was paid by American Media Inc., the New York Times reports. But the company has the right to be paid up to $75,000 in any future profits McDougal makes from her story. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal also have stories on the settlement.

AMI chairman David Pecker, is friends with Trump. The August 2016 “catch and kill” contract paid McDougal for the exclusive right to her story, which was never published.

AMI had previously amended the deal, in November 2016, to allow McDougal to respond to “legitimate press inquiries” about Trump.

McDougal had claimed in her suit that she had no obligations under the contract because of alleged failures by her lawyer—who had notified Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, about the deal, even though Trump was not a party. McDougal said she believed the contract called for publication of her fitness columns, and her lawyer didn’t tell her that the fine print didn’t obligate AMI to run the articles.

AMI began publishing McDougal’s columns after the Wall Street Journal revealed the contract in a November 2016 story.

Anonymous sources told the Times that materials seized in the FBI’s April 9 raids of Cohen’s office, home and hotel room included information about AMI and the McDougal lawsuit.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.