An Ex-Playboy Model Can Now Discuss Her Alleged Affair With Donald Trump
American Media Inc. bought the rights to Karen McDougal's story for $150,000 but never ran it in what critics said was an example of "catch and kill."
The owner of the National Enquirer has agreed to let a former Playboy model out of a contract that had threatened large financial penalties if she talked publicly about her alleged affair with Donald Trump, her attorney confirmed.
The settlement between American Media Inc. and Karen McDougal, first reported by the New York Times, was reached Wednesday. McDougal claims she had a 10-month affair from 2006 to 2007 with Trump and had filed a lawsuit to be released from a 2016 agreement to stay silent.
AMI bought the rights to her story for $150,000 but never ran it in what critics said was an example of "catch and kill," or the practice of burying stories that might damage allies of a media company or that could be used to extort cooperation down the road.
McDougal claims Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was secretly involved in negotiations with AMI, whose CEO is a friend of the president.
Under the terms of the agreement reached Wednesday, AMI has the right to up to $75,000 of any future profits from McDougal's story about Trump, and the former Playmate can keep the $150,000 payment she got in 2016. AMI will also retain the rights to photographs it already has of McDougal.
"I am pleased to have reached a settlement with AMI on my own terms, which restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago," McDougal said in a statement. "My goal from the beginning was to restore my rights and not to achieve any financial gain, and this settlement does exactly that. I am relieved to be able to tell the truth about my story when asked, and I look forward to being able to return to my private life and focus on what matters to me."
An AMI spokesperson said McDougal also agreed to appear on the September cover of Men’s Journal and will publish five additional health and fitness columns for the company.
"AMI is pleased that we reached an amicable resolution with Karen today that provides both sides what they wanted as a result," the spokesperson added.
McDougal's attorney Peter Stris said in an interview on The Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday night that his client was not getting a magazine cover as part of the settlement.
"What Karen wanted was to not be beholden to this company," Stris said. "She doesn't want to be on their magazines. She doesn't want to work with them."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The president still faces a lawsuit filed by adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, who also wants out of a deal to stay silent about her claims of an affair with Trump. Daniels has waged a highly public battle in the media to be released from a six-figure agreement that was set up by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, also in 2016.
And in March, a state judge in Manhattan ruled that a lawsuit by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice who publicly accused Trump during the campaign about "unwanted sexual misconduct," can go forward.