Coming forward

New report outlines details of Trump affair with former Playboy model Karen McDougal

Donald Trump alongside Karen McDougal (Instagram)

A new report blows the lid off an extramarital affair President Donald Trump purportedly engaged in with a former Playboy Playmate of the Year more than a decade ago. Karen McDougal discussed certain aspects of her apparent relationship with Trump, as well as the ways that Trump and his allies have worked behind the scenes to keep his purported transgressions out of the press.

Speaking with Ronan Farrow in an explosive exposé for The New Yorker, McDougal confirmed the authenticity of a handwritten eight-page letter that Farrow had obtained. In the document, she detailed her alleged affair with Trump, writing that she had met Trump in June 2006 when he taped an episode of The Apprentice at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Trump asked for her phone number at the party, and the two had their first date at his private bungalow in the Beverly Hills Hotel. According to McDougal, she was charmed by Trump and they had sex after dinner, but she was shocked when the real estate mogul offered her money as she was getting dressed to leave. The encounter took place, less than two years after Trump had married Melania Knauss, then a model and now the country’s first lady.

“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.’”

McDougal continued to see Trump for nine months, according to the report, as Trump met with her during his frequent visits to L.A. He also flew McDougal out for events such as the Lake Tahoe golf tournament. At Lake Tahoe, Trump is said to have also begun a sexual relationship with pornstar Stormy Daniels and called Dawn Vanguard, another pornstar, with the offer to join him and Daniels. Yet another adult-film actress, Jessica Drake, has said that Trump also offered her $10,000 for sex during the Lake Tahoe tournament.

After McDougal ended the relationship, a friend of hers, John Crawford, suggested that he get in contact with an attorney Keith M. Davidson to see whether a story about her affair was “worth something.” McDougal, who is a Republican, said that she was afraid of influencing the election and of possible reprisals from other Trump supporters. But A.M.I., the media company that bought the rights to her story, is run by CEO and chairman David Pecker — “a personal friend” of the president’s. By purchasing the story and not running it, the publication was effectivably able to enforce McDougal’s silence — a tradeoff that McDougal says she is no longer willing to stomach.

McDougal explained how events in her life led to her change of heart — and former A.M.I. employees, including former senior editor Jerry George, elaborated on how Pecker protects Trump in the media — as well as the possible “leverage” over a person that owning stories about them can create.

Farrow appeared on Good Morning America Friday to discuss McDougal’s story and the reporting that went into it. Watch the interview below.

Read the full story at The New Yorker.

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