Karen McDougal, the former Playboy Playmate who says she had an affair with Donald Trump and then unwittingly entered into a contract that wouldn’t let her speak to the press, is now free to tell her story.
“I am pleased to have reached a settlement with AMI (American Media Inc.) on my own terms, which restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago,” McDougal said in a statement sent to CNN. “My goal from the beginning was to restore my rights and not to achieve any financial gain, and this settlement does exactly that.”
McDougal’s attorney, Peter Stris, added that the settlement “makes right the wrongs that had been perpetrated against her.”
AMI spoke out shortly after McDougal, per terms of the settlement, saying the company was “pleased that we reached an amicable resolution with Karen today that provides both sides what they wanted as a result.”
McDougal spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in March about what she says was a 10-month affair with Donald Trump that started a few months after Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron. McDougal said that during the 2016 presidential campaign, a friend “outed” her story on Twitter.
In August 2016, McDougal signed an agreement with AMI, which owns The National Enquirer, Us Weekly, Men’s Journal and several other publications. She believed at the time the contract was a work agreement that would allow her to be photographed for and write pieces that would run in the companies’ publications. Her understanding was that AMI was buying the rights to her story about Trump, and that it would not run the story.
Her attorney for that negotiation was Keith Davidson. She told CNN she later found out Davidson was in contact with Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
McDougal later realized she could face a financial penalty for speaking to the media about her story. But AMI did not financially penalize her for her interview with Cooper.
The 30-page settlement is signed by McDougal and David Pecker, the chairman and CEO of AMI, who also is a friend of Trump.
The settlement details that AMI and its affiliates are released from further legal action by McDougal. But it explicitly states that neither Davidson nor Cohen are released, and that McDougal may choose to file further action against them.
There is no financial award detailed in the settlement. Both McDougal and AMI agree to pay their own attorney fees and costs.
But as part of the agreement, McDougal will be on the cover of Men’s Journal for the coveted September 2018 issue. She will also be the subject of a feature article in that issue.
A spokesman for AMI added that the company will also publish five additional health and fitness columns by McDougal. As part of the agreement, AMI retains the right to publish articles about McDougal and maintains the right to proceeds stemming from the resale of McDougal’s exclusive story.