Former Playboy model Karen McDougal says she kept notes on when she met with Donald Trump during what she says was an affair, in addition to details on the relationship.
During a wide-ranging interview with CNN that aired on Thursday evening, McDougal shared her journal with the network and talked about how she discreetly kept track of the times she saw Trump.
“I either called him T or D.T., because if anybody found this I wouldn’t want to expose myself or expose him,” she said, as CNN displayed photos of her journal and highlighted where McDougal had written Trump’s initials. “I purposely kind of chicken-scratched a lot on there, because I know what I’m writing.”
“Did I see him quite a few times? Quite a bit?” she added. “Absolutely. We spent a lot of time together.”
McDougal, however, said she never kept any evidence of their relationship besides the journal.
“Let me just say this. If you’re in a loving relationship, do you try to collect evidence?” she said. “The only thing that I have, really, is my journal that I keep. … I wasn’t out to get anybody or, gosh, get anyone in trouble, but those are my notes. Those are for me.”
McDougal says she had a 10-month affair with Trump in 2006 that lasted into 2007, though the White House has also called accounts of any affair untrue. She is currently suing American Media Inc., parent company of the National Enquirer, to be released from an agreement about the rights to her story of the relationship. The company is reported to have paid her $150,000 but did not run the story, at the same time requiring her to keep silent.
When asked by CNN about speaking out now despite claiming she couldn’t share her story, McDougal said there could be a big lawsuit against her.
“There could be financial ruin, but that’s why I have really good attorneys to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she said. “Do I feel threatened? Absolutely. I feel I had to protect myself. I had to stand up for myself. I almost feel violated in the fact I didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes. I’m quite mad at that. I’m angry. I feel taken advantage of, in a sense. I want the right to be made. I want it to be right.”
American Media this week issued a statement to CNN in response to McDougal’s lawsuit, saying that she “has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship” with Trump since 2016 and that it had not “silenced” her.
In the interview, McDougal also detailed the first time she met the future president, during filming on an episode of his “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show at the Playboy Mansion. She said that she was told by another Playmate that Trump looked as though he was interested in her and that they began chatting and exchanged numbers.
She said she was in contact with Trump and would speak with him on the phone but did not meet with him again until around the time of his birthday, in June.
That night, McDougal said, she met with Trump in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel where they had dinner, talked and were “intimate.”
She also said that Trump tried to hand her money after the interaction.
“I just had this look, I just — I don’t even know how to describe the look on my face, it must have been so sad, because I never have been offered money like that before,” McDougal said.
She added that she was hurt because she wondered whether Trump thought she was in it for the money.
“I looked at him and said, that’s not me, I’m not that kind of girl. And he looked at me and said, ‘Oh,’ and he said, ‘You’re really special,’” McDougal said. “And I was, like, thank you. So I left, and I got into the car, Keith’s (bodyguard) taking me home, and started crying. I was really sad. It really hurt me, but I went back.
“I was crying in the backseat of the car like I said, I got home to my apartment and I was crying a lot. I felt terrible about myself, let alone what he felt.”
Throughout their affair, McDougal said, she would meet up with Trump not only in Los Angeles, but also accompanied him to Lake Tahoe and even met up several times in New York, where she once visited his apartment in Trump Tower.
She noted that Melania had her own room, but said she did not want to speculate on whether they had marital issues.
McDougal said she eventually ended the relationship after feeling “so guilty.” She said she was in love with Trump and that he had told her that he loved her, too.
“I was just feeling so guilty. It was just digging inside me,” she said, adding that knowing that Trump was married made it difficult to continue the relationship.
“Whether they get along or not, it’s still a family,” McDougal said. “I just needed to get out of it. It was tearing me apart.”