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Karen McDougal files lawsuit to discuss alleged Trump affair

Former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal filed a lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to be released from a 2016 legal agreement that prevents her from discussing an alleged romantic relationship with President Trump.

McDougal, a former model, is suing the tabloid giant American Media, Inc. (AMI), which owns The National Enquirer. The lawsuit claims AMI worked secretly with Mr. Trump's associates and her own lawyer, Keith Davidson, to bury her story about an extramarital affair McDougal says she had with the president. 

McDougal signed a $150,000 deal with AMI for the story before the 2016 election. According to the lawsuit, AMI made the deal with McDougal to squash the story, a practice known as "catch and kill." She says that Davidson urged her to sign the contract with AMI, which would also allow her to write a series of columns for the tabloid and appear on its cover twice. 

The lawsuit claims McDougal was not told AMI had no obligation to run articles she had written or that they were simultaneously negotiating deals to kill other negative stories about Mr. Trump, and that his representatives received constant updates throughout the negotiations last year. 

"AMI lied to me, made empty promises, and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me," McDougal said in a statement Tuesday. "I just want the opportunity to set the record straight and move on with my life, free from this company, its executives, and its lawyers."

McDougal's alleged affair with Mr. Trump took place over a period of 10 months between 2006 and 2007. When Mr. Trump became the presumptive nominee in 2016, McDougal's name surfaced online, leading her to hire Davidson as her attorney. The lawsuit claims that Mr. Davidson was a close ally of Mr. Trump and was only pretending to advocate on her behalf.  McDougal's lawyers said Tuesday that her story further exposes a complex machine designed to bury negative stories about the president. 

"A quarter billion dollar company posing as a media organization systematically intimidated and silenced Karen McDougal in order to achieve its political and financial ends, and she will no longer be quiet," Peter Stris, Founding Partner Stris & Maher, said. "Through efforts including the collusion of her own lawyer, AMI has consistently deceived and manipulated Ms. McDougal through an illegitimate contract."

The lawsuit is the second time this month a woman has accused the president's allies of trying to cover-up stories about his extramarital affairs. Adult film star Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, is currently suing to be released from a 2016 non-disclosure agreement in which she received $130,000 from the president's personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to stay silent about an affair. 

The agreement, Clifford's lawyers claim, is void since Mr. Trump failed to sign the paperwork. McDougal, in her lawsuit, claims that Mr. Cohen was also secretly involved in her negotiations.