The Slatest

Settlement With National Enquirer Owner Frees Former Playboy Model to Share Details of Alleged Trump Affair

President Trump walks across the South Lawn before boarding Marine One and leaving the White House April 5, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Here we go.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Like it or not, it appears we’re about to hear a lot more about President Trump between the sheets. On Wednesday, the New York Times reports, American Media Inc., owner of the National Enquirer, agreed to a settlement releasing former Playboy model Karen McDougal from a contract that prohibited her from speaking freely about her alleged affair with Trump. The terms of the settlement appear to be highly favorably to McDougal, who was essentially freed from the August 2016 contract and gets to keep the $150,000 payment for the original sale of the story to the National Enquirer.

This is bad and good news for President Trump. The bad news is: McDougal, given the current, ahem, climate seems likely to find a pretty receptive audience and significant market for her story, which the National Enquirer bought and spiked in the lead up to the 2016 election. As part of the settlement, the tabloid gets up to $75,000 of future sales from the story and gets to retain some photographs of McDougal. The good news is that it clears up, albeit partially, one of the legal battles that was threatening to draw in the president. “Ms. McDougal’s lawsuit said that American Media, whose chairman, David J. Pecker, is a friend of President Trump’s, misled her into signing the contract,” the Times reports. “It also alleged that Mr. Cohen had inappropriately intervened in the deal.”

American Media looked ready to fight the suit and asked the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss it earlier this month, but things appeared to change after federal agents raided Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room recently. Among the emails, audio recordings, and other files seized by the government in the raid was information about American Media and the McDougal suit, the Times reports. McDougal’s lawyer, Peter Stris, said on Wednesday “that before reaching the settlement he was prepared to answer American Media’s motion to dismiss Ms. McDougal’s case with a request for a limited version of pretrial discovery, in which both sides would have been compelled to share emails and other records that could have provided information about the deal from inside American Media that would not be available through the material the F.B.I. seized from Mr. Cohen,” according to the Times. Wednesday’s settlement preempts that possibility that American Media would have to share documents that could be harmful to the president, alleviating the immediate legal pressure of the civil suit.

One more thing

You depend on Slate for sharp, distinctive coverage of the latest developments in politics and culture. Now we need to ask for your support.

Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help. If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.

Join Slate Plus