Karen McDougal: Who is the other woman paid hush money over Trump affair?
The unprecedented indictment that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has obtained against Donald Trump for falsifying business records focuses on hush money payments he made by reimbursing his former fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her revealing a decade-old affair with Mr Trump in the waning days of the 2016 election.
Cohen, who served a year in federal prison and two additional years on home confinement for his part in the deal, has provided testimony and documentary evidence to the grand jury which voted to charge Mr Trump earlier this week.
The twice-impeached and indicted ex-president is set to be arraigned on Tuesday 4 April before New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, the same jurist who presided over the criminal tax fraud trial of two of Mr Trump’s companies last year.
While much of the public speculation about what is contained in the still-sealed indictment has centered around Ms Daniels, another woman who recieved payments to stay silent about Mr Trump may also play a significant role in the unprecedented criminal trial of a former American commander-in-chief.
That woman is Karen McDougal, a former model for Playboy who was voted “Playmate of the Year in 1998”.
According to ABC News, Mr Bragg’s office spent time investigating a $150,000 payment made to Ms McDougal by American Media Inc, the publisher of the infamous National Inquirer supermarket tabloid.
A recording of a conversation between Mr Trump and Cohen — which has been made public by the former fixer — shows the two men discussing Mr Trump reimbursing the tabloid publisher for the payment.
While it’s unclear if that reimbursement ever happened, Mr Trump denied being aware of any such arrangement during a 2018 interview with Fox News.
But what is known is that Ms McDougal did have an affair with Mr Trump.
In a handwritten note obtained by The New Yorker, she described one encounter with the future president.
Ms McDougal wrote that they had dinner, with Mr Trump ordering steak and potatoes but no alcohol.
“We talked for a couple of hours, then it was ‘on!’ — we got naked and had sex,” she wrote.
She added that Mr Trump offered her money afterwards, to which she responded that she was “not that kind of girl”.
In response, she said Mr Trump told her she was “special”.
Because the scheme to pay off Ms McDougal took place before the 2016 election, it’s possible that prosecutors could argue that it was orchestrated by Mr Trump in an effort to affect that election.
One witness who could shed light on the agreement, ex-American Media Inc boss David Pecker, testified before the grand jury that indicted Mr Trump as recently as 27 March.
Mr Pecker previously testified before federal grand jurors as part of the investigation which led to Cohen’s indictment and guilty plea, though he recieved immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving evidence.