Trump accuser Karen McDougal attends Playboy’s Super Saturday Night Party, Feb 2010 in Miami Beach, Fla
Former Playboy model Karen McDougal has been released from a contract with American Media Inc. that prevented her from discussing an alleged affair with President Trump.
The tabloid news company American Media Inc. agreed to let a former Playboy model out of a contract that had kept her from talking freely about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump.
The settlement agreement, reached Wednesday, ends a lawsuit McDougal brought against the tabloid news company, which owns The National Enquirer, according to The New York Times.
In August 2016, AMI, which owns The National Enquirer, acquired the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story about Mr. Trump, but never published it, in a tabloid maneuver known as “catch and kill,” in return for $150,000 and commitments to use its magazines to promote her current career as a fitness specialist.
McDougal alleged in her lawsuit that American Media chairman and Trump ally David Pecker tricked her into signing the contract through which McDougal earned $150,000. She also alleges that President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, improperly intervened in the negotiations.
The settlement agreement, reached on Wednesday, ends a lawsuit brought by Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign.
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Donald Trump is seen with his accuser, model and former Playmate Karen McDougal, in a group of Twitter photos she posted in Sept, 2015
The suit also claimed that Trumps fixer, Michael Cohen had inappropriately intervened in the deal. AMI had denied misleading McDougal
Under the terms of Wednesday’s settlement, AMI has the right to up to $75,000 of any future profits from her story about the alleged affair. According to her lawyer, Peter K. Stris, Ms. McDougal can keep the $150,000 payment, and the publisher will retain the rights to photographs of her that it already has.
The publisher in a statement, described the settlement an “amicable resolution” and said that under the new agreement it would devote an upcoming magazine cover and feature article to Ms. McDougal, and would run several of her fitness columns in its publications.
McDougal’s attorney Peter Stris said “It’s a total win”.
“We got everything we were fighting for. She got out of the contract, gets the life rights back and owes AMI nothing more.”
“We got everything we were fighting for ” – By the Terms of Wednesday’s agreement with AMI, playmate Karen McDougal [photo], can keep the $150,000 payment from AMI, and the publisher will retain the rights to photographs of her that it already has
In a separate interview, Ms. McDougal expressed elation about the end of her “wild ride,” and said she currently had no plans to sell the rights to her story to a new buyer. “It’s one step at a time for me,” she said. “Today, I’m doing my victory dance.”
Her lawsuit also claimed that Michael Cohen had inappropriately intervened in the deal. AMI had denied misleading her. That Cohen had been secretly involved in the talks between AMI and McDougal’s lawyer at the time, Keith M. Davidson, who emailed Mr. Cohen at the end of the negotiations. A spokesman for Mr. Davidson has said the lawyer “fulfilled his obligations and zealously advocated for Ms. McDougal.”
AMI admitted they spoke with Cohen about McDougal, but only as part of its reporting process.
The deal and the extent of Mr. Cohen’s role in it are the subjects of a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation that is, in part, looking into his efforts to protect Mr. Trump’s presidential prospects in 2016.
AMI indicated earlier this month that it would fight Ms. McDougal, asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss her lawsuit – A week before federal investigators changed the tide when they obtained email communications, audio recordings and other documentation during raids on Cohen’s office, home and hotel room. Those materials included information about AMI and the McDougal suit.
Stris said that before reaching the settlement, he was prepared to answer AMI’s motion to dismiss McDougal’s case with a request for a limited version of pretrial discovery. The move, compelling both sides to share emails and other records, could have provided information that would not be available through the material the FBI seized from Mr. Cohen.
Peter Stris did not rule out taking legal action if more came to light about potentially inappropriate contact between Michael Cohen and his client’s former attorney, Keith Davidson during the course of negotiating her deal.
The settlement does not bar McDougal from claims against either of the men in the future. For now, McDougal said, “I need to relax and get my life back and de-stress.”
The initial deal prohibited the former Playmate from speaking about her alleged affair, but AMI amended the contract after the presidential election to allow her to answer “legitimate press inquiries,” in response to her complaints that the agreement was overly restrictive.
In recent months, she has spoken to The New Yorker and Anderson Cooper of CNN.
Separate from the federal investigation into Mr. Cohen, AMI is facing a complaint at the Federal Election Commission that its $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal was an illegal campaign expenditure. The publisher has denied this and says it acts solely as a news organization with a First Amendment right to run stories, as it chooses or not run them at all.
President Trump still faces another lawsuit from adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, aka, Stormy Daniels who is suing to get out of a deal that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, arranged in 2016 for her silence about an alleged affair.
Mr. Trump’s representatives had denied both women’s stories.