Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has already triggered outrage over his sexist and derogatory comments toward women throughout his campaign. And in the latest development, a report suggests that pro-Trump media was attempting to bury an affair that the construction mogul had with a former Playboy model while he was married to his current wife Melania.
American Media Inc. (AMI), which owns the National Enquirer, allegedly agreed to pay former Playboy centerfold model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her story of an affair with Trump years ago. However, the publication, which backs Trump in the presidential election, did not publish the story, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Originally from Indiana, McDougal, 45, was the 1998 Playmate of the Year and continued modeling after the Playboy stint. People familiar with the matter told the Journal that the model had confided in several of her friends that she had a relationship with Trump for about 10 months — starting in 2006, until 2007. Some sources also said that the relationship lasted a year.
In an instance mentioned by one of McDougal’s friends, she accompanied the Playboy model to the Miss Universe pageant at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 2006, on Trump’s invitation. While the Republican nominee’s limousine picked them up from McDougal’s residence, he personally escorted them home after the ceremony, the friend reportedly said.
Under the contract, AMI — run by Trump's longtime friend David J. Pecker — has the exclusive rights to “any romantic, personal and/or physical relationship McDougal has ever had with any then-married man,” the Journal reported. If McDougal releases her story elsewhere, AMI is entitled to damages of at least $150,000. However, there is no explicit mention of Trump in the documents.
The company said that the $150,000 was not for the former Playboy model’s story, but for two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers. “AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump,” the Journal reported, citing a written statement from the company.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: “We have no knowledge of any of this,” referring to the agreement between AMI and the model. Hicks reportedly added that McDougal’s claim of an affair with Trump was “totally untrue.”
Along with allegations of having extramarital affairs, Trump has also come under the scanner after a number of women came forward alleging unwanted sexual advances from the businessman. The Trump campaign has had to deal with a number of hurdles regarding the nominee’s record with women, providing rival and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton an upper hand ahead of the Election Day.