Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal Will Not Testify in Trump Hush-Money Trial

Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Bacardi
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Bacardi

Despite high hopes to finally hear a former Playboy Playmate talk about her alleged long-running sexual affair with Donald Trump, Manhattan prosecutors revealed the decision Thursday to not put Karen McDougal on the witness stand.

The strategy, first disclosed by defense lawyers Thursday afternoon, means that Stormy Daniels will be the only one of the two women who claim to have had sexual affairs with Trump to appear in front of jurors.

The plans were only made public after Daniels’ minimally detailed testimony on the stand about the one-night stand in July 2006 managed to make the judge uncomfortable, pissed off the former president, and left jurors with a seedy impression of the business tycoon.

Trump defense lawyer Todd Blanche disclosed the DA’s decision in court shortly after the judge had sent the jury home for the day half an hour early.

Trump Lawyer Tears Into Stormy Daniels’ Sudden Sainthood

“The people informed me they no longer intend to call Ms. McDougal, so we won’t discuss that,” Blanche said.

Twenty minutes later, a prosecutor corrected the defense lawyer.

“We had her on the witness list… we had never affirmatively indicated we were going to call her,” said prosecutor Joshua Steinglass.

Then Trump’s legal team moved on to the next item on their list: a request that Justice Juan Merchan temporarily lift a gag order barring the politician from publicly speaking about witnesses, at least after their testimony is over.

Trump wants to hit back at Daniels—and hard.

“We ask that the president be allowed to respond to what Ms. Daniels said in trial,” Blanche said, later adding that Trump wants to counter any notion that alleged sex wasn’t consensual.

However, prosecutor Christopher Conroy reminded the judge of the excerpts of a Trump book published in 2007 shown in court that very day that showed Trump’s thirst for revenge.

“My motto is, always get even,” said one.

“When you are wronged, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. Getting even is not even a personal thing,” said another.

Conroy then revealed that an upcoming “custodial witness”—who is only supposed to come in to discuss records—is already worried for their safety, given Trump’s relentless use of violent rhetoric that whips up his frenzied MAGA loyalists.

Merchan refused to alter his gag order, noting that he found it fit to write down notes from the bench earlier today when the book excerpts were being shown on courtroom screens.

“My concern is not just with protecting Ms. Daniels or a witness who has already testified. My concern is with protecting the integrity of these proceedings as a whole,” Merchan said. “Witnesses will see what happens… witnesses will see how witnesses who testified will be treated by your client.”

Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal Will Not Testify in Trump Hush-Money Trial

“Other people will see you doing it. And that’s my concern,” he added.

When Blanche tried to convince him otherwise, the judge expressed his rising worries about Trump’s rage—and his inability to cede even an inch to a fuming politician who can’t control himself.

“I can’t take your word for it that, ‘No, no, this is going to be low key, this is not going to be an attack’… because that’s just not the track record,” the judge said. “It’s precisely because of the nature of these attacks, the vitriol… these were very real, very threatening attacks on potential witnesses. Your client’s track record speaks for itself. I can’t take your word for it.”

However, the judge did indicate he may—at some point—do something about the ongoing attacks on Trump by those very witnesses, like Daniels and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who hasn’t yet testified. Merchan said he “continues to be mindful” of witnesses using the gag order “as a sword and not a shield.”

And in what’s become a tired exercise at each of the ex-president’s last three New York trials, Trump once again made a Hail Mary play to wipe the slate clean by asking the judge to declare a mistrial.

Blanche noted how Daniels, during her testimony, brought up several issues on the periphery of a case that’s largely about business records.

Blanche decried the level of detail about sex, such as when Daniels testified that she was “staring at the ceiling” and “didn’t know how I got there.” The defense lawyer argued that the jury can’t possibly stay focused on the heart of documents at issue when they’ve heard that a porn star who was proud to work for a safety-conscious company that demanded the use of condoms vividly recalls how Trump in 2006 didn’t wear one.

“That has nothing to do with the falsification of business records,” Blanche said. “It’s a dog whistle for rape!”

“This kind of evidence is so dangerous, and so prejudicial,” Blanche said.

Prosecutors pushed back, saying that several details about her story have been corroborated—while pinning the blame squarely on Trump’s lawyers for opening the trial with speeches that essentially called Daniels a liar.

Steinglass quoted what Blanche had told jurors last month, that “she was paid so she would not spread false claims about Mr. Trump.”

“They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. They’re trying to discredit Ms. Daniels by claiming in their opening that her story is false, and then precluding the people from eliciting the very details that could corroborate her account,” he said.

“We went out of our way to avoid the most salacious details,” Steinglass continued, hinting that there were details about the sex that could be independently corroborated—a veiled threat that could be taken to mean physical descriptions of Trump’s naked body.

The prosecutor even offered to make a court filing—sealed from the public—that would detail even more spicy details about the sex.

But the judge totally rejected the request and came down hard on Trump with the force of a hammer. He again pinned the blame squarely on Trump’s own lawyers, particularly Susan Necheles, for not making enough objections during Daniels’ testimony—seeming particularly aghast that they remained quiet during Daniels’ recollection of the unprotected sex.

“I agree. That shouldn’t have come out. I wish those questions hadn't been asked. For the life of me, I don’t know why Ms. Necheles didn’t object. Why on Earth she wouldn’t object to the mention of a condom, I don’t understand,” the judge said as Trump shifted uncomfortably in his chair with Necheles sitting at the defense table a few feet to his left with a colleague between them.

The judge also credited Trump’s overall defense strategy for opening the door to salacious details, blaming the former president for putting prosecutors in the position of having a duty to detail the sex when he outright denied it ever happened.

“Mr. Blanche, in your opening statements, you denied that there ever was a sexual encounter between Stormy Daniels and the defendant. Your denial puts the jury in a position to choose who they have to believe,” Merchan said. “Although the people do not have to prove that sexual encounter actually did occur, they do have a right to rehabilitate Ms. Daniels’ credibility.”

“The more specificity Ms. Daniels can provide about the encounter, the more a jury can weigh… whether they choose to credit Ms. Daniels’ story,” said.

And with the jury away from the courtroom, the judge gave his biggest endorsement yet for the claim of a sexual affair, asserting that the porn star’s vivid recollection had remained pretty consistent over nearly two decades.

“I disagree with your narrative that there’s any new account here,” he said. “The color of floor tiles, description of furniture, weight of the furniture… these details add a sense of credibility, if the jury chooses to believe them.”

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