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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Former Playmate On Her Alleged Affair With Donald Trump; Former Playmate On Her Alleged Affair With Donald Trump, McDougal On Alleged Trump Affair. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 17, 2024 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Appreciate you're taking the time and talking to us tonight.


BURNETT: And thanks very much to all of you for being with us tonight and this week. We'll be back here again on Monday as the Trump trial continues. Michael Cohen back on the stand still under cross- examination by Todd Blanche, and we'll see what that brings on Monday morning. Have a good weekend. AC360 begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to this special edition of AC360 the Karen McDougal interview.

McDougal is one of the women at the center of former President Trump's hush money trial. She says they had an affair starting in 2006 that lasted around 10 months. The former president denies an affair with McDougal or a sexual relationship with Stormy Daniels.

Karen McDougal was paid by the company that owns the National Enquirer for her story as part of a catch-and-kill scheme. I spoke to her about it back in 2018. Karen McDougal had never told her story on camera in full until this interview and she's never done an interview like it since.


COOPER: If we could just start at the beginning, how did you meet Donald Trump?

KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL: I met Donald when they were filming "The Celebrity Apprentice" at the Playboy Mansion. They were filming there and I was hired as one of the Playmates to work at the pool party scene. It was kind of fun, actually. And ...

COOPER: You worked for Playboy for some time.

MCDOUGAL: Yes. I - after becoming Playmate of the Year, I was required to work so many events with Playboy. And that was one of the events that I thought would be fun. And I worked it and there were a lot of women there. And we just saw it as a great time and that's how we met. COOPER: How did you actually meet?

MCDOUGAL: He said hello, like he would to anybody, and then throughout the night it was kind of obvious that there was an attraction from his part to me. And I kind of just blew it off.

COOPER: You could see him looking at you.

MCDOUGAL: I could see it. And the Playboy Bunny, she's like the house mom, is what we call her, she actually made a comment like, wow, this guy is really into you. And that's kind of when I started like paying attention. And he was. And I kind of smiled at it, I thought it was kind of cute and funny. And then at the end of the night, after striking up many conversations, we exchanged - he actually asked me to write his phone - my phone number down for him to keep.

COOPER: Did you - you wanted to see him again?

MCDOUGAL: I thought it would be nice to communicate with him and talk to him. I actually at that point didn't consider dating or going out with him. But I just think he's an interesting person. He's brilliant and I like smart minds. And I think that I was interested in the communications for sure.

COOPER: So when was the next communication?

MCDOUGAL: I believe we talked right away on the phone and I think we talked for about a week on the phone before his next visit to L.A. And that was his birthday which I think is June 12th.

COOPER: Would he call you?

MCDOUGAL: He would call me. I would call him, vice versa.

COOPER: So you had his phone number?

MCDOUGAL: I have many of his phone numbers, yes.

COOPER: Do you have his direct number for him and did you have to go through somebody else?

MCDOUGAL: I have his direct phone number. I have quite a few of the direct phone numbers. I also had his bodyguard - Keith's phone number. I had his personal secretary's phone number.

COOPER: And what were the conversations like?

MCDOUGAL: The conversations were like any other conversation you have with a nice person. We got along great. We had respect for each other. We had fun. We were funny together. We had a good time.

We would talk about anything and everything from what kind of food do you like, to how's your family - he asked me how my family was - to politics, to anything, like just normal everyday life conversations.

COOPER: So, tell me about your first date. MCDOUGAL: Our first date, I was told we were going to go to the Beverly Hills hotel for dinner. So, he had told me that Keith, his bodyguard, was going to pick me up at a certain time and he did. And then we were driving over to the Beverly Hills Hotel. And Keith drove around to the back and he said, we have to get out here, because we don't want to walk to the hotel. And at that minute, I'm like thinking to myself, are we going to a room because I thought we were having dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

COOPER: In the actual restaurant?

MCDOUGAL: Right. Well, we did have dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel but in his bungalow instead. We had dinner there for a few hours. We talked for a few hours. We had a great time, we're getting to know each other. We're talking about his birthday, and then as the night ended, we were intimate.

COOPER: When you got to the Beverly Hills Hotel and Keith said, we're not going to go through the lobby, we're going to go - was it to a room at the Beverly Hills Hotel or a suite or ...

MCDOUGAL: It was a bungalow in back.

COOPER: A bungalow.

MCDOUGAL: It's the one he said he always stayed at. And in fact, every time that I met him there, it was the same exact bungalow. And he's called it the nicest bungalow they have. So, I guess that's why he chose that one. But that's, yes, that's where we went every time.

COOPER: Were you concerned when you realized you're not going to go out to dinner, you're actually going to be eating at the bungalow?

MCDOUGAL: I think that first night I was concerned because I didn't - I wasn't expecting to go to a hotel room or bungalow, whatever you want to call it.


I actually thought we were going to dinner. So, I was a bit concerned, and I think at that moment is when I realized maybe something else is going on.

I'm a smart girl. I probably could have figured it out, but I really wasn't thinking. I think I was so nervous to actually meet with him in general that it kind of just didn't even - think - it wasn't my thought process at that moment. I was just too nervous to actually meet him. So ...

COOPER: Were you attracted to him?

MCDOUGAL: I was attracted to him, yes. He's a nice-looking man. And I liked his charisma. I think I love got great posture. He's got great posture. And he was nice.

COOPER: So the sex was consensual? Just to be clear. MCDOUGAL: It was consensual, yes.

COOPER: And what happened afterward?

MCDOUGAL: After that night?

COOPER: You said you sort of ended on a strange note. What happened after you had been intimate?

MCDOUGAL: Well, after we had been intimate, he tried to pay me. And I actually didn't know how to take that.

COOPER: Did he actually try to hand you money?

MCDOUGAL: He did. He did. And I said, I mean, I just had this look of, I don't know - just, I don't even know how to describe the look on my face must have been so sad, because I had never been offered money like that before, number one. But number two, I thought, does he think I'm in this for money or why I'm here tonight? Or is this a normal thing? I didn't know.

But I looked at him and I said, that's not me. I'm not that kind of girl. And he said, oh, and he said, you're really special, and I was like, thank you.

So, I left, actually, got in the car. Keith taking me home and I started crying. I was really sad. It really hurt me. But I went back.

COOPER: Hurt you that I saw you that way?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. Hurt me that he saw me in that light. And he obviously assumed that that's the kind of girl I was, maybe because I was a playmate. I don't know. But ...

COOPER: Even though you'd a night of conversation and days of conversations, it hurt you that it boiled down in the end to that.

MCDOUGAL: It did hurt me. It did hurt me. I was crying in the back seat of the car. Like I said, I got home into my apartment and I cried for - a lot. I felt really terrible about myself, let alone what he felt, but I felt terrible about myself. And I got over it, but I did hurt.

COOPER: Did you think you would see him again?

MCDOUGAL: I didn't. I didn't think I'd see him again. But then when he called, I was in a bad place in my life. I just came out of a bad relationship where I never felt good enough in my relationship, and - not that that's any excuse, it's not. But I think I was so down on myself that when he called, and he's so sweet, like what everyone sees on TV, I didn't see in that man, because that man was very sweet, very respectful, very loving, very kind and caring. Like that's the man I saw.

COOPER: He's very - he could be very charming in person.

MCDOUGAL: He's very charming. He's very sweet. His personality to me was, wow, like I loved it. It was great.

COOPER: When was the next time you saw him?

MCDOUGAL: I'd have to look back at my - like, I took a journal back in the day, and not for anything in particular, but I - to this day, I still write down everything I do during the day. That's what I do.

So, if I looked at that, I could find out, but I think it was in that same couple days within a week, because he was in town. When he came to L.A., he was usually there between three, six, seven - between three, five, six, seven days and I usually saw him.

COOPER: You gave us the journal that you kept. You would write down on days you saw him, you wouldn't write out his full name.

MCDOUGAL: No, I either called him T or D.T., because if anybody found this, I wouldn't want to expose myself or expose him.

COOPER: So there's a number of days here, looks like dozens over the course of time with a small little D.T. and sometimes they're hard to see.

MCDOUGAL: I purposely kind of chicken scratched a lot on there, because I know what I'm writing. And like I said to this day, I still do that with my notes and where I'm at, who I talked to, whatever. I did. I did write that down.

So, did I see him quite a few times? Quite a bit? Absolutely. We spent a lot of time together.

COOPER: And did you tell friends about it at the time?

MCDOUGAL: I did. I told a few friends, and I told my sister. I actually told my mother that I knew him and we talked on a regular basis, but I told her that we were just friends. And she kind of scolded me a little bit, like I hope it's only friends, because, you know he's married and I'm like, yes, I understand.

My sister actually heard him on the phone, she was with me one time and she - I couldn't hold the phone because I was busy. So, she put him on speaker and we were just talking. I mean, I didn't care. It's like, she knew anyway.

So, when you have a relationship with somebody, you don't hide it, right? If there's feelings, you don't hide that relationship.

COOPER: Did he ever ask you to hide it?

MCDOUGAL: No, he didn't. Never. Actually ...

COOPER: So, there was never a conversation of don't tell anybody?

MCDOUGAL: Never. In fact, I think once he asked, does your sister know? And I said, yes, she knows. He's like, oh. So, he wasn't afraid to hide it at all.

COOPER: And you knew he was married.


COOPER: Did he bring up his wife? Did you bring it up?


MCDOUGAL: No, I never brought up his wife. He did once. And that's only time I can remember, when he said she was an intelligent woman. She knew like, I don't know, four or five languages. But other than that, he never talked about his wife, and I never brought it up.

I - obviously, there's a reason I don't bring her up because I felt guilty about it. So, I - after never seeing her until the one occasion, I never correlated the two, really. I just kind of out of sight, out of mind.

COOPER: When you met, it was 2006.

MCDOUGAL: Correct.

COOPER: Was this shortly after his son had been born?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, it was.

COOPER: Would he talk about his child, his son?

MCDOUGAL: No. The only thing he said about his son was, isn't the name Barron a nice name? And I said, yes, it is. And I said, how did you choose that name? And he told me, and that's it. There's no conversation.

COOPER: As you enter a relationship, obviously, in any relationship, you start to think about where this is going to go, and how you feel, and - how did you view it? How did you view the relationship?

MCDOUGAL: Going through it, when I look back, where I was back then, I know it's wrong. Like I'm really sorry for that. I know it's the wrong thing to do.

But back in those days - sorry.

COOPER: It's okay.

MCDOUGAL: Back in that day, I was a different girl, I had fun. I was in the Playboy scene. I was just enjoying life as much as I could.

And when I got with him, actually, there was a - there was a real relationship there. There was real - there were feelings between the two of us. Not just myself, not just him. There was a real relationship there.

And I kind of out of sight, out of mind with everything else. And deep inside, I did have a lot of guilt. But I still continued.

COOPER: You believe, though, that he had real feelings for you? MCDOUGAL: Of course he did, mm-hmm. I know he did.

COOPER: He would say that?


COOPER: Were you in love with him?

MCDOUGAL: I was, yes. Mm-hmm.

COOPER: And do you think he was in love with you?

MCDOUGAL: He was, yes.

COOPER: Did Donald Trump ever say to you that he loved you?

MCDOUGAL: All the time. He always told me he loved me. Yes, of course.

COOPER: Did he have any nicknames for you?

MCDOUGAL: He would call me "baby," or he'd call me "Beautiful Karen."

COOPER: Would you always see him just in Los Angeles?

MCDOUGAL: No. No, I wouldn't.

I actually went to a golf tournament with him in Lake Tahoe. I went to his golf course in California. I went to his golf course home in New Jersey. I went to his home in New York, and - I'm trying to think where else. I can't recall right now, yes.

COOPER: When you say you would arrange to go someplace, how would it be arranged?

MCDOUGAL: I would pay for the flight, I would book it myself. I would book the hotel room if I wasn't staying with him. Usually, I stayed with him, but there's been a couple times where I didn't. And then he would reimburse me. So, if the flight was, I don't know, I'll just throw the number, if the flight $500, he'd give me $500 and say, here's - take care of the flight and things like that. So ...

COOPER: Why would he have you book all the travel and the hotel room?

MCDOUGAL: Well, there's no paper trail.

COOPER: And did you realize that at the time?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, I did.

COOPER: Because he was concerned about it being revealed at some point and there being a paper trail?

MCDOUGAL: Oh, I was told there is no paper trail. I can't say what his reasons were, but I would assume that's the case, yes. Yes.

COOPER: You said you went to a golf tournament in Tahoe. MCDOUGAL: I did.

COOPER: There were other people now who have come forward saying that they also had met with him and had sex with him at that event. Were you aware of any other women?

MCDOUGAL: No, I was not. I mean, I was with him a lot, so I didn't see anything, but could he have stayed a day longer than me? Sure.

COOPER: Did you think that this relationship was going to last for a long time? Did you have ...


COOPER: You did?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, I felt it was getting much stronger. There were no gifts ever, but a Christmas gift, I got him a gift. And then he told me the gift he got me was an apartment in New York, but it's being remodeled right now. And I never saw the apartment, because I ended up breaking up or ending the relationship, but that was supposedly my gift. I don't know.

COOPER: You went to his actual apartment in Trump Tower.

MCDOUGAL: I did. I didn't know I was going there. I actually had a hotel room in the city at that time. Well, for this trip.


COOPER: What was it like going up to Trump Tower?

MCDOUGAL: I didn't know I was at Trump Tower. We went to the back entrance, so I had no idea where we were going. The back entrance as you know, probably, is more discrete. It's like a little nothing hallway versus like when you walk into the grand - right?

COOPER: Right.

MCDOUGAL: So we went into the back entrance and then at that time I realized where we were going, and I said, aren't you afraid to bring me here. He's like, they won't say anything. I'm like okay. So, we went upstairs and we looked around and ...

COOPER: To his office or to his apartment?

MCDOUGAL: His apartment. He showed me around.

COOPER: What did you think of the apartment?

MCDOUGAL: It's very gold. No, actually - it's actually quite pretty. The views are amazing. That's a beautiful apartment. They have great taste.

COOPER: And he showed you around the apartment?


COOPER: Did he reference Melania at that point?





COOPER: One of the reasons Karen McDougal says she wanted to set the record straight was that Donald Trump through his then longtime aide Hope Hicks denied any relationship with her. McDougal talks about that coming up in this part of our 2018 interview.

Before the break she was recounting how during her alleged affair with Trump she says he actually took her into his apartment at Trump Tower when his family wasn't home.


MCDOUGAL: We passed a room and he said it's Melania's room. She likes to have her alone time or to get her way to read or something like that. I'm like, oh, okay. That's when I kind of thought, maybe they're having issues. I didn't ask. It's not my business at that point.

COOPER: How did you feel being in his apartment?

MCDOUGAL: Guilty, very guilty.

COOPER: Guilty.


COOPER: Why guilty?

MCDOUGAL: I kind of didn't - I couldn't wait to get out of the apartment, actually. I think doing something - but then when you're doing - or doing something wrong is bad enough, and when you're doing something wrong, and you're in the middle of somebody else's home or bed or whatever, that just puts it a little old stab in your heart, and I just couldn't wait to get out of the apartment. I wanted to go back to my hotel room.

COOPER: It made his other life more real, you think?

MCDOUGAL: I was going to say, it made it more real to me, yes. It made it more real.

COOPER: Did you see Barron there?

MCDOUGAL: No, I never saw Barron.

COOPER: So, where's this picture from? MCDOUGAL: That picture is from the "Apprentice" release party that they had at the Playboy Mansion. So, they filmed it like a month beforehand, which is where I met him, and then they had the release party when the "Apprentice" actually aired. So, that's when that one was.

COOPER: So, this is a picture with Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, several of your colleagues and yourself.

MCDOUGAL: Correct, yes.

COOPER: Did - so, was that the first time you met Melania?

MCDOUGAL: It is. And honestly, if you can tell, I tried to keep my distance. I tried to go as far away as I could, just because I felt guilty.

COOPER: Do you think she knew?

MCDOUGAL: Maybe. Maybe. I don't know.

It was told to me that they were arguing that night, and I said, why. And somebody had said, probably because of you. But I don't know if that's a fact or not, so don't quote me on that one.

COOPER: Do you - there's another picture with - it's you with Eric Trump.


COOPER: Do you know where that is from?

MCDOUGAL: I believe is that's from the Trump Vodka release party that he had, which was within a couple of days of that other party.

COOPER: Did it feel strange to meet his son, Eric?

MCDOUGAL: It did, but he was such a friendly guy. Like, again, when you're doing something wrong, you try and push everything out of the way and make it as right as you can in your mind. So I met all his kids, except for Barron, of course. And I just started to shake it. But now, it gets to me, but then it didn't.

COOPER: Did he ever compare you to any of his kids?

MCDOUGAL: He's very proud of Ivanka, as he should be. I mean, she's a brilliant woman. She's beautiful. She's - that's his daughter and he should be proud of her.

He said I was beautiful like her and you're a smart girl. And there wasn't a lot of comparing, but there was some, yes. I heard a lot about her. Yes.

COOPER: Did that strike you as odd in any way, or?

MCDOUGAL: I know a lot of people think it's odd. I - there's been some comments I've heard in the news he's said about her and I think those comments are wrong. But do I think it's strange that a father would love his daughter so much that he brags about her? No, I brags about my dog that much.

COOPER: I guess - some people seeing this are not going to believe that you had a relationship, Hope Hicks has said categorically you did not have a relationship.


COOPER: There's no truth to this. When you heard that denial, what do you think?

MCDOUGAL: Well, I think somebody's lying, and I can tell you it's not me. It's a little hurtful, but at the same time, I have to understand, like if he were to told Hicks - Hope that he didn't do it, I guess I understand, because he's trying to protect his family, his image. Things like that. But, it was definitely a little, like, wow, you're going to lie about that? Like, okay.

COOPER: When you heard the stories of Stormy Daniels who has come forward who said that she was at the Tahoe Club as well and others who said that they were there, you didn't know about that at the time.

MCDOUGAL: No, I did not. No.


COOPER: Does it - what did you think when you heard that?

MCDOUGAL: My first thought is how could she have been with him when I was with him? The only time we weren't together on that particular trip was when I - well, he was on the golf course golfing. I didn't go, clearly, but I went to every event, every after thing, parties, daytime things, I was there. That's why I can't understand.

Now, I do remember him saying, he came in one day and said, oh, there are a bunch of porn stars out there. They were wanting pictures of me. And I'm like, oh, that's funny, it's cute, whatever. I do remember him saying that, but I can't imagine when he found the time except for maybe the day I left.

So, it's kind of like, wow, how did this happen?




COOPER: This is special edition of 360, the Karen McDougal interview. Along with Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal at the center, former President Trump's ongoing hush money trial.

She spoke to me back in 2018 and revealed for the first time on camera the full story about her alleged relationship with Trump, which she says began in 2006 and about the payment for her silence brokered through the parent company of the National Enquirer.

Karen McDougal has never spoken about it in such detail on camera since.


COOPER: Did you think maybe this would lead to a marriage?


COOPER: That's something, though, you liked him enough? That's something you would have liked?


COPPER: Did he, at the time, say -- tell you that you were his only girlfriend or did that subject matter?

MCDOUGAL: You know, we never really discussed that. I knew he talked to ladies, but I didn't know there was anything else. I didn't know he was intimate with other ladies. But I guess if he's -- makes sense, if he's doing it behind his wife's back, why would he not do it behind my back? So --

COOPER: But at that time, in the frame of mind you were in then, you felt you were the only love one person?

MCDOUGAL: I thought I was the only one. Yes. I did. I thought I was the only one.

COOPER: Do you have any text messages, photographs, videos, anything that would dispute the Hope Hicks's statement that this never happened?

MCDOUGAL: Let me just say this. If you're in a loving relationship, do you try and collect evidence?

COOPER: That's not what you were thinking about?

MCDOUGAL: No, not at all. Not at all. In fact, the only thing that I have really is my journal that I keep. And like I said, I still do it to this day. It wasn't out to get anybody or, gosh, getting anyone in trouble. But those are my notes. Those are from me. No. When you care about somebody, you don't try and set them up in any way, shape or form. That's my opinion.

COOPER: And then this is a hard question to ask and -- but you said you had texted that first time. All these times you saw him, this was an ongoing sexual relationship?

MCDOUGAL: Absolutely.

COOPER: Can you estimate how many times you actually saw him?

MCDOUGAL: Again, when you're in a relationship, do you count how many times you have sex? No. However, I can tell you we saw each other a minimum five times a month, up to bigger numbers per month. So we --

COOPER: Over the course of how long?

MCDOUGAL: Over the course of 2006 through -- I think I ended the relationship April 2007. So we were together 10 months before I chose to end it. So we saw each other quite frequently.

COOPER: So dozens of times you were together --

MCDOUGAL: Many dozens of times, yes.

COOPER: -- and you were intimate?


COOPER: Many dozens of times?


COOPER: This is another tough question. And again, you don't have to answer it, but it's been raised with other people. Did he ever use protection?

MCDOUGAL: No. No, I didn't.

COOPER: Was that something you thought about or it didn't concern you at the time?

MCDOUGAL: You know, we talked about it right beforehand. He was starting to, and then he's like, I don't like these things. And, you know, we discuss things. Do you do, blah, blah, blah. And we were just honest with each other. And we didn't use any.

COOPER: You talked about ending the relationship. Who ended the relationship?



MCDOUGAL: I was just feeling so guilty. It was just digging inside me. I think the excitement of it took over for a while. And I did care about the man, I'm not going to lie. So that made it hard to end it. But I think I just started feeling so bad about myself. Like, how could I do this to, A, myself, but to B, to a family? Whether they get along or not, it's still a family.

I just needed to get out of it. You know, I just needed to get out of it. It just was tearing me apart in the long run.

COOPER: That's a hard thing to do to end a relationship, any relationship.

MCDOUGAL: It was very hard. But I knew I needed to get out.

COOPER: How did you end it? MCDOUGAL: He wasn't in town. And I just simply said, look, this isn't

working for me. And he's like, why not? And I told him, I blamed it on my mom. I said, look, I know my mom knows about you, but she would be really, really devastated if she found out we were actually having a relationship and being intimate together, and, you know, the feelings. And I don't want to disappoint my mom. And he said a few words, and that was about it.




COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) Now, of my exclusive 2018 interview with Karen McDougal. At the time, she was shocked to learn that in the months before the 2016 election, her then attorney, Keith Davidson was negotiating a deal with the parent company of the National Enquirer. At the same time, he was talking to Michael Cohen, then the attorney for candidate Trump.



COOPER: Did you ever think about rekindling the relationship?

MCDOUGAL: Not while he's married, no. Yes, of course I did. I had feelings for the guy, but not when -- I could -- no, not while he was married. At that point in time, I would never do that again. No.

COOPER: You didn't speak -- I mean, you told friends, as anybody would tell friends about a relationship.


COOPER: But you didn't at any point during this time, 2006, 2007, 2008, try to reach out, or did you at any point after the relationship ended, think about telling your story publicly?


COOPER: Telling about the relationship? I mean, some people would have considered telling their story. That never crossed your mind?

MCDOUGAL: No. When you have a -- when you have feelings in a relationship and you cared about somebody, why would you want to destroy their life any more than you might have already destroyed their life? So --

COOPER: At what point did -- I mean, obviously, Donald Trump announces for president. He's going to run. He gets the Republican nomination. At what point does this start to come back or this become suddenly in the forefront for you again?

MCDOUGAL: I was watching the republican debate with a friend named Johnny (sp). He's one of my good friends from many years ago. He said, you know, the story is a big story. And I said, no way. It's not going to happen. I go, you know where I stand on this, Johnny (sp). I will never say anything. We dropped it.

And of course, Johnny (sp) is a Democrat, and -- but I'm a Republican, so --

COOPER: You're a Republican?

MCDOUGAL: I am. And I voted for Donald. Yes, I did. There you have it. Yes, diehard Republican. So we dropped it. But then later on, maybe a week or two later, an ex-friend or an old friend of mine started on social media talking about my relationship. And she was part of that. She knows everything.

She had started putting it out there, so it was being seen. So I came to Johnny (sp) one day and I said, Johnny (sp), look what she's doing. I said, do I need to worry about this? And he's like, absolutely, you do. He said, you need to get ahead of the story now before everyone else takes your story and manipulates it any way they want to manipulate it and make it this very ugly thing. You need to control your story and you need to tell your truth.

And I said, yes, you're right. So that's what we decided to do. And that's where Johnny (sp) one day comes over and he's like, you know, our mutual friend that we have found this guy named Keith. And he's going to help you share your story.

COOPER: Keith Davidson.

MCDOUGAL: Yes, correct.

COOPER: An attorney?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, correct.

COOPER: An attorney who also was an attorney for Stormy Daniels?

MCDOUGAL: I didn't know that. Yes.

COOPER: And others in this business?

MCDOUGAL: Clearly.

COOPER: So what did you do then? You contacted Davidson?

MCDOUGAL: I didn't. Johnny (sp) did. Johnny (sp) and the mutual friend contacted Davidson. Within a matter of a couple days, Keith came out and we all had lunch together, and he wanted to know details. So we sat down at lunch for a couple hours. I gave him details. And Keith was like, you know, this story is worth many, many millions. And I'm like, hmm, okay. So we talked about it. And that's when Keith brought it to AMI.

COOPER: So did you know that Keith, your attorney, was going to go to AMI, which is the parent company which owns National Enquirer and other magazines?

MCDOUGAL: He said AMI. I didn't know what AMI was, to be honest. He said, AMI, we have this company that, you know, they'll probably want to hear your story. So --

COOPER: And what was the thought of selling the story in your mind?

MCDOUGAL: To get my truth out there. I wasn't looking for money, clearly. But when he said, it's worth many millions, I'm like, you know --

COOPER: That was something that was hard to pass up?

MCDOUGAL: Sure. Of course.

COOPER: Did Keith have a meeting with AMI? Did you have a meeting with AMI?

MCDOUGAL: We did. We had a meeting with AMI.

COOPER: You told them your story?

MCDOUGAL: We told them the story. They actually didn't think it was very credible, even though, off the record, they said Dylan believes your story. But clearly, when they came back, they said it wasn't believable. I'm like --

COOPER: Dylan being --

MCDOUGAL: Dylan Howard, he's with AMI. So they had, like, a 12-hour window to -- I know I'm probably skipping around. I'm sorry.


MCDOUGAL: They had a 12-hour window to accept whether they wanted the story or not. And they didn't want the story. Well, then the Republican -- he won the Republican nomination and AMI was interested in the story again.

COOPER: Once Donald Trump won the republican nomination --

MCDOUGAL: Right. Correct.

COOPER: -- you're saying AMI suddenly came back to you with interest of your story?

MCDOUGAL: Well, to Keith, yes. To us for the story, Yes.

COOPER: Why do you think it was that it was after Donald Trump was the Republican nominee that they came back?

MCDOUGAL: They wanted to squash the story.

COOPER: You're saying they wanted to protect Donald Trump?

MCDOUGAL: I'm assuming so, Yes. [20:45:02]

But the offer, which we didn't discuss yet or haven't discussed, was, you know, they had offered me a big, you know, contract for work, for modeling, and fitness, and things like that. My life has always been health and fitness, so --

COOPER: They said they were going to have you be a columnist. You would write columns about health and fitness?

MCDOUGAL: Correct. They said I'd write columns. I would get one article per month in OK Magazine, one article per month in Star Magazine for two years, and then four columns per month on RadarOnline for two years. On top of that, two magazine covers.

And their reasoning was like, you know, you've been a successful model, fitness, etcetera. We want to help you continue and we actually want to rebrand you. And, you know, you're older now, so we want to jump start into a new career for you and really get you out there to work. And I'm like, this is perfect. Like, who doesn't -- what model wouldn't want that, especially as an older model? Like, you're like, oh, this is great, right?

So, Yes. But then the side deal was, oh, we're squashing the story. OK, it's a win-win for me. Like, I get the work and my story doesn't have to come out.

COOPER: Did you know that they were buying the life rights to your story?

MCDOUGAL: I did. I knew I could never talk about him. Sure.

COOPER: So that was -- for you, this wasn't a non-disclosure agreement? To you, this was a great business opportunity. You're going to get paid. You're going to be able to have write columns. You're going to kind of launch a new aspect of your career. You're going to get the cover of some magazines. And on top of it, you're going to sell them your story, but they're not going to publish it. And therefore --

MCDOUGAL: Correct.

COOPER: -- there's not going to be any ramifications to the story getting out?

MCDOUGAL: Absolutely. I mean, who wouldn't want to get this work? And then that work could leave to other work or to other work. Who knows where it could lead? Of course, I was excited.

COOPER: So in essence, you were happy to have the story killed?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, of course. Like I said, I never wanted to come forward.

COOPER: And you were going to get $150,000 for it, for having it killed and launching potentially a new career? MCDOUGAL: Well, more importantly, I looked at it as I was doing work,

the columns, the covers, and I'm getting paid for that. Oh, and my life story never has to be shared. It was more about the way it was presented. It was more about protecting me. It was more about, we don't want to tarnish your image, we want to keep your brand wholesome and whole. So I'm like, that's awesome. You know, that's great. So that's the way I perceive this contract. It was a win-win, like I said. It's a win-win.

COOPER: Had you ever heard the term at that point, catch and kill?

MCDOUGAL: No, I had not.

COOPER: Do you know what catch and kill is now?

MCDOUGAL: I do now. Yes, I do now.

COOPER: What's your understanding of what catch and kill is?

MCDOUGAL: From what I'm learning, a catch and kill is somebody for, like, say for yourself, for example, taking a story about somebody you like or care about or have a friendship about, and they squash a story so it doesn't hurt you, don't hurt them.

COOPER: So did you know that that's what was going or that's the allegation of what was going on here? Did you realize that at the time?

MCDOUGAL: I knew the story wasn't going to be printed. Yes.

COOPER: Why do you think they squashed the story?

MCDOUGAL: Back then or now?


MCDOUGAL: They didn't want to hurt him.

COOPER: You think it's because of a personal relationship with the guy who runs AMI is friends with Donald Trump?

MCDOUGAL: Correct.

COOPER: Do you think -- I mean, you wouldn't know this, but do you think Donald Trump would have been aware of this deal that they were doing him -- that they were allegedly doing him this favor?

MCDOUGAL: I wouldn't know. But based on what I'm learning, as we're all learning together, as we read, and one of the big complaints with why I think my contract is illegal, is because his attorney was talking to my attorney. So --

COOPER: You're saying Donald Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen?

MCDOUGAL: Correct. Speaking with Keith.

COOPER: He Was talking with to Keith Davidson, your attorney?

MCDOUGAL: Without me even knowing, without my knowledge, I would assume that maybe he knew. I know his attorney did. I can't say that he knew, but his attorney (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: How do you know that Michael Cohen and your attorney, Keith Davidson, were in communication?

MCDOUGAL: I didn't know. I'm just learning this as you're learning this. It's been reported. And my attorney is -- they know.

COOPER: And to you, the idea that Michael Cohen would be in communication with your attorney at the time. Theoretically, there would be no reason for Michael Cohen to be having communication with your attorney because this was a deal between Keith Davidson, you, and AMI?

MCDOUGAL: AMI, right. So why was he involved in my deal? And why wasn't I told that he was involved in my deal? That's not fair. And it's quite frankly, illegal (INAUDIBLE).


COOPER: How quickly was the AMI deal done?

MCDOUGAL: Once we agreed upon the jobs, the financial payment and things like that, it was done very quickly in a matter of a day or two. Basically, I was going out of town and I said, I'll get back to you in a week. When I get back into town, they said, the deal really needs to be done now. I'm like, OK. So I think it was done within that night or the next day.

COOPER: Do you remember what day this was or what -- when this was in the presidential race?

MCDOUGAL: It was in August. I signed the deal August 6th, so it was probably August 5th or 4th that we finalized and then signed on the 6th. But I can't tell you. I don't remember where the race was, so --

COOPER: So this is in the last month or two of the presidential race?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

COOPER: Do you think the presidential race had anything to do with this deal getting done?

MCDOUGAL: When I'm looking back at it now, possibly, yes.

COOPER: If Donald Trump hadn't been running for president, do you believe this deal would have been made with AMI knowing what you know now?

MCDOUGAL: Probably not. No. Probably not.

COOPER: You're pretty -- you're convinced now this was an effort to do a favor for Donald Trump in the last few months of the presidential race?

MCDOUGAL: Unfortunately, yes.




COOPER: At the time of my interview with Karen McDougal in 2018, she'd filed a lawsuit against AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, to release her from that contract, which bought her silence but also promised her a number of opportunities with their publications.

She said David Pecker and AMI hadn't held up their end of the bargain. Weeks after this interview, she settled that suit and was released from her contract.


COOPER: You know, some people hearing that are going to say, look, you want -- this is -- you're in it for the money. They're going to say, OK, obviously we are not paying you for this interview. We don't pay for interviews. But you may go from here and write a book, or make a movie, or whatever it may be. To that, you say what?

MCDOUGAL: Bottom line is this. I've offered to give back the $150,000, even though I only got 55% of that. I've offered to give back the $150,000 just to have my story rights back.

The story is out there now. I'm not telling the nitty-gritty details. As you can see, I'm very selective in what I'm saying about our relationship. I'm not out to make money on this. I'm out to get my rights back, to prove a contract was illegal, that I was taken advantage of, and then go back to my life, period.

COOPER: Did it anger you? I mean, is part of this because people at the White House have said, you're lying, you're not telling the truth?

MCDOUGAL: I don't -- no one likes to be called a liar, but no, it's more about the illegal portion of the contract and them not fulfilling what they promised me. They promised me this work.

To date, there are only 10 articles on OK magazine, 10 articles in Star magazine, and maybe 7 on RadarOnline. RadarOnlnie, I'm supposed to get four per month. I mean, the two years is up in August. I've gotten really nothing out of this.

COOPER: So you think that whole talk of helping you relaunch kind of a new -- a whole new phase of your career --

MCDOUGAL: It was fake. They didn't want to help me. I thought they wanted to keep my reputation clean. From what they said, they wanted to rebrand me. They wanted to, you know, I'm an older model now. They wanted to make something a new start. You know, they promised me all these wonderful, beautiful things.

Even when I met with David Pecker, and Dylan, and Keith in New York after -- this was back last August, they offered me many more opportunities, but I haven't seen anything yet. Not that -- that's not part of the contract, but my point is, they keep dangling the carrot. I'm not playing that game anymore.

COOPER: Are you aware of, or have you spoken to any women with similar stories who have come forward?

MCDOUGAL: No, I haven't spoken to anyone. I know other, I've heard other stories from other people, but it's hearsay. It's not like the girl directly to me. But no, I can't comment on that.

COOPER: Would you have come forward publicly if Stormy Daniels hadn't come forward? Do you think that made an impact on you?

MCDOUGAL: I definitely think it made a little bit of an impact on me. It gives you more -- it takes a little bit of the fear away. However, I probably would have just because as I'm learning about this contract and the people involved and the way I was treated, and all the behind the scenes things that I wasn't aware about, and all the work I'm not getting, which I contracted for, yes, I probably would have come forward.

If you didn't get what you were told in a contract work-wise, wouldn't you say something? Of course.

COOPER: Do you have any regrets about the relationship that you said you had with him?

MCDOUGAL: Back then?


MCDOUGAL: The only regret I have about the relationship that I had with Donald was the fact that he was married. If he weren't married, I wouldn't have any regrets because he treated me very kind. He was very respectful. As I told you, it was a good relationship while it happens.

Now, had I known at the time, there were supposedly all these other women, no, I wouldn't have been in the relationship, but I didn't know that at the time. So, no, no regrets, except the fact that he was married.

COOPER: If Melania Trump was watching this, what would you want her to know?


MCDOUGAL: It's a tough one.

COOPER: Or say to her.