The indictment of former President Trump included charges not only for hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, but also two lesser-followed indirect payments that kept Playboy model Karen McDougal and a doorman quiet about Trump’s alleged sexual rendezvous.
McDougal allegedly had a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006 and Trump property doorman Dino Sajudin purported to know about a love child Trump had with a former housekeeper.
Both McDougal and Sajudin were paid off by the Trump-aligned National Enquirer. The former housekeeper in questioned denied ever having an affair with Trump and Sajudin’s ex-wife later called him a ‘serial liar.’
In 2016 McDougal was paid $150,000 for the rights to the story of her affair with Trump by American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer. In a practice known as ‘catch and kill,’ the Enquirer bought the rights but never ran the story.
The indictment of former President Trump includes a less-covered indirect payment that kept Playboy model Karen McDougal quiet about her alleged 10-month affair with him
American Media Inc.’s former CEO David Pecker has admitted to doing so to help the Trump campaign.
That same year, American Media Inc. gave Sajudin $30,000 for rights to the story he had to tell but imposed in the contract a $1 million penalty if he gave the story to anyone else. They then spiked the story.
Trump’s lawyers said that the former president did not know of the payment until after the deal was done. Pecker also testified before the grand jury in the Trump case last week, where he reportedly tied Trump directly to the deal and to a broader scheme to suppress negative stories about him during the 2016 election.
Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen has said he arranged for the Enquirer to make the payment and made recordings of a conversation where he spoke with Trump about the payment.
Cohen also admitted to speaking to the Enquirer about the payout to Sajudin.
At one point, Trump asked Cohen: ‘What do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?’ Trump denies ever having the affair.
All together Tuesday’s charges – falsifying business records in the first degree – carry a maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison under New York law but, even if convicted on all charges, it’s unlikely Trump would be sentenced to that much time. Each charge is a low-level felony that carries a maximum of four years in prison for each count.
There was no formal conspiracy charge but the state of facts released by prosecutors describes how Trump ‘orchestrated a scheme’ with others ‘to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects.’
In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges related to the Daniels and McDougal payments. He testified that Trump had directed him to buy silence from Daniels and to work with Pecker on quashing the McDougal story.
McDougal said Trump first tried to pay her in 2006 after their first sexual tryst at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills hotel. She said the relationship continued for about 10 months after that but she broke in off in April 2007 because she felt bad.
In 2016 McDougal was paid $150,000 for the rights to the story of her affair with Trump by American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer
Don’t call me a liar: Dino Sajudin, the former Trump doorman who claimed the president had a love child said Thursday he was standing by his story
The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that the grand jury had a broader focus not just on the Stormy Daniels payments but the payments to McDougal as well.
The Federal Election Commission found in 2021 that Pecker and American Media Inc. had made an unlawful campaign donation through the payment but declined to prosecute after Pecker’s cooperation in the Cohen case.
When McDougal approached the Enquirer with the story of her affair, Pecker alerted Cohen before paying McDougal $150,000 for her story and telling her they would run magazine covers and articles on her in exchange for her not talking to any other outlet about the affair.
Cohen signed an agreement to pay $125,000 to buy the nondisclosure part of the agreement, but Pecker later called off the deal and told Cohen to rip up the agreement.
The FEC fined American Media Inc. $187,500, deeming the McDougal deal as a ‘prohibited corporate in-kind contribution.’
Pecker stepped down as CEO of the publisher in 2020.
Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union that
The other central case against Trump involves a $130,000 hush-money payment that Cohen made to Daniels in the final days of the 2016 campaign.
Cohen said he made the payment at Trump’s direction and it was to ensure Daniels would not go public with her story of a sexual encounter with the married Trump.
The alleged affair happened in 2006, long before Trump entered politics and when he was married to Melania. It was shortly after she gave birth to their son Barron.
Trump denies both the affair and any legal wrongdoing. At issue is the Trump Organization’s later reimbursement of Cohen for the payments, and Bragg’s office is reportedly looking into whether Trump falsified business records to conceal the payment.
During a 2018 tell-all interview interview with Anderson Cooper, McDougal said she left her first date with Trump ‘crying in the backseat of a car’ because he offered to pay her after they had sex.
In a practice known as ‘catch and kill,’ the Enquirer bought the rights to McDougal’s affair but never ran the story
McDougal, pictured above in 2006 at the time she was allegedly sleeping with Trump, said she cried after their first date when he offered her money
‘After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me, and I actually didn’t know how to take that,’ she said.
She said she was hurt by the cash offer, which she turned down.
‘I don’t even know how to describe the look on my face,’ she said. ‘It must have been so sad.’
Later that year she said was also given an apartment in New York City as a Christmas gift, but lost it after the two split.
McDougal also tearfully recalled feeling guilty when she went to Trump’s apartment in Trump Tower and he showed her Melania Trump’s bedroom.
McDougal thought it was odd that Trump’s wife slept in a separate bedroom.
‘I thought maybe they were having issues,’ she said.
McDougal recalled feeling uncomfortable walking into the apartment of a married man whose wife just had a baby.
‘I couldn’t wait to get out of the apartment, I think,’ she said.
‘Doing something, 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.’
McDougal expressed regret over the affair, saying she felt guilty. Nonetheless, despite the guilt, she carried on with Trump for the better part of a year.
‘When I look back, I know it’s wrong,’ the 1998 Playmate of the Year said.
‘I’m really sorry for that. I know it’s the wrong thing to do.’