America Media Inc., which routinely bought the stories of women who claimed to have had affairs with Donald Trump only to kill those stories later (so-called “catch and kill”), has now released a former Playboy model from a contract intended to silence her. The move comes a week after the FBI seized materials from longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen, who was allegedly involved in negotiating the deal. The New York Times writes:
The settlement agreement, reached Wednesday, ends a lawsuit brought by the model, Karen McDougal, and protects the president from being drawn into a legal case involving efforts to buy the silence of women who had stories to tell about him during the 2016 campaign.
He still faces another lawsuit, from the pornographic film star Stephanie Clifford, who is suing to get out of a deal that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, arranged in 2016 for her silence about an alleged affair.
Remember, both McDougal and Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) were represented by the same lawyer, Keith Davidson, who helped craft the deals to bury their stories. Cohen himself actually called Davidson within the last month or so, urging him to disclose other details about the contracts that Cohen presumably figured would besmirch the women.
Davidson said he was contacted in recent weeks by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who encouraged him to go out and reveal what he knew about his clients and their agreements. He said Cohen argued that the women had waived attorney-client privilege by going public with their stories.
Cohen isn’t much of an expert on attorney-client privilege or ethics, and other lawyers advised Davidson that talking publicly would be unethical.
Anyway, isn’t it interesting that AMI was suddenly so eager to let McDougal out of her contract just a week after the FBI executed a no-knock raid on Cohen’s office, home and hotel room?
The deal, and the extent of Mr. Cohen’s role in it, are subjects of a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation that is, in part, looking into his efforts to protect Mr. Trump’s presidential prospects in 2016.
American Media indicated earlier this month that it would fight Ms. McDougal, asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss her lawsuit.
Under the terms of Wednesday’s settlement, American Media has the right to up to $75,000 of any future profits from her story about the alleged affair, which Mr. Trump denies. According to her lawyer, Peter K. Stris, Ms. McDougal can keep the $150,000 payment and the publisher will retain the rights to photographs of her that it already has. American Media said that it also maintained the right to publish columns about Ms. McDougal.
“It’s a total win,” Mr. Stris said in an interview. “We got everything we were fighting for — she got out of the contract, gets the life rights back and owes A.M.I. nothing more.”
A total win, eh? Wow, what a turnaround for AMI. McDougal was quoted as saying she was doing a “victory dance.”
So Trump may have avoided another pesky legal entanglement for the moment, but just guessing McDougal will be granting some more interviews real soon. If there’s a ringing in your ears, it’s likely her phone.