How DA could use hush money payment to “Playboy” model Karen McDougal to bolster Trump case
Written by ABC Audio ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on March 31, 2023
(NEW YORK) — In addition to former President Donald Trump’s alleged role in the $130,000 hush payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is also investigating a $150,000 payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who, like Daniels, claimed to have had an affair with Trump.
The former president, who was indicted Thursday in New York on charges which remain sealed, has denied having an affair with either woman and has called the entire investigation a witch hunt.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office declined to comment.
McDougal was paid for the rights to her story in August 2016 by American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer, which did not publish it, a practice known as catch and kill.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, has said he recorded Trump discussing reimbursement to American Media for the payment to McDougal, but the payment was never made.
Trump has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment but in a 2018 interview with Fox News, he claimed he wasn’t aware of any payment made to A.M.I. to facilitate the alleged hush agreement.
That the Manhattan investigation allegedly includes the McDougal payment, a detail first reported by the Wall Street Journal, raises the possibility Trump could face criminal charges over alleged attempts to keep both women from going public with their stories before the 2016 presidential election. Or, prosecutors could use the second case to suggest a pattern of conduct.
Both Daniels and McDougal alleged affairs with Trump happened years before he ran for president — McDougal in 2006 and Daniels in 2010 — but were both paid in the closing moments of the 2016 campaign.
A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the Trump matter since January and voted to indict him Thursday. The exact charges and details of the case are unclear as the indictment remains under seal.
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