Donald Trump carried on an extra-marital relationship with a former Playboy model before entering politics, and his allies used payoffs and legal settlements to keep reports out of the media, according to a magazine story by one of the first writers to report on the sexual-abuse allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Karen McDougal kept handwritten notes about the affair, which she said began in 2006, when Trump taped an episode of his reality show “The Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion, Ronan Farrow reported in a New Yorker article published Friday. She reportedly was paid $150,000 by National Enquirer publisher American Media, Inc. for the story, which never ran.
McDougal’s story has similarities to recent reports that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, made a $130,000 payment ahead of the 2016 election to Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film actress who appears on-screen under the name Stormy Daniels.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. “This is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal,” a White House spokesman told the New Yorker in a statement.
American Media is led by David Pecker, who is reported to be a close friend of Trump.
Farrow said on NPR Friday that the agreement illustrates the “leverage” that Pecker’s publications have over “the sitting president of the United States.”
“They know where the bodies are buried,” Farrow said.
The New Yorker said it obtained notes by McDougal detailing how she visited Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel over a nine-month period in 2006 and 2007. He always ordered steak and mashed potatoes at these meetings and he offered to pay her after the first time they had sex, her notes said, according to the report.
Weinstein, who faces a wave of sexual-assault claims stretching back to the 1970s, was ousted from his studio in October 2017 after the New York Times and the New Yorker published accounts in which women accused him of sexual harassment and rape. He has denied any non-consensual sexual activity.