The suit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles by former Playboy model Karen McDougal alleges that longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who also negotiated the NDA with pornographic actress Stormy Daniels that’s at issue in other litigation, collaborated with American Media, Inc. (which publishes the National Enquirer) and her own former attorney Keith Davidson in 2016 to trick her into signing an agreement with AMI that prevented her from speaking publicly about Trump.
AMI CEO David Pecker is a longtime crony of Trump’s, and the Enquirer has consistently covered Trump’s political career in fawning fashion. The company’s agreement with McDougal has been described as a “catch and kill” deal—an apparently common tabloid tactic in which a publication buys the rights to a salacious story it intends to keep secret in order to gain favor with a higher-value source. McDougal’s agreement called for her to be paid $150,000 and to become a contributor of health and fitness content to other AMI publications; she says the company has not followed through on promises to publish her work or promote her career.
According to notes taken by McDougal and obtained by the New Yorker earlier this year, she met Trump at the Playboy Mansion in 2006 and began a sexual relationship with him that lasted roughly a year. “McDougal recalled that Trump would often send her articles about him or his daughter,” the New Yorker’s piece notes, “as well as signed books and sun visors from his golf courses.”
Trump, who denies having had a sexual relationship with McDougal, was also the subject of an adverse ruling Tuesday in a case brought by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who says Trump sexually assaulted her in 2007. Zervos sued Trump for defamation after he accused Zervos and the various other women who have accused him of sexual assault of fabricating their stories about him; on Tuesday, a judge in New York City rejected Trump’s attorneys’ motion to dismiss the case.