The New Yorker published on Friday an in-depth report about an affair between Donald Trump and Playboy model Karen McDougal. The affair reportedly began in June 2006 — the year after President Trump married Melania Trump.
In a statement provided to The New Yorker, an unnamed White House spokesperson characterized the story as “just more fake news.” But notably, the statement doesn’t flat-out deny the affair. Instead, the spokesperson merely claims that Trump says it didn’t happen.
“This is an old story that is just more fake news. The President says he never had a relationship with McDougal,” the White House spokesperson is quoted as saying.
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman remarked that the White House’s statement about the McDougal affair represents “a shift.”
The WH spokesperson here is unnamed but there’s been a shift in what people defending him say – it’s not “the president didn’t do XYZ,” it’s now “the president says he didn’t do XYZ.” https://t.co/Gv9xQgxT0d
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 16, 2018
The report about Trump’s affair with McDougal comes days after his longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted that he paid $130,000 to adult film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels allegedly had an affair with Trump that also began in 2006.
Aspects of McDougal’s story about her affair with Trump corroborate Daniels’ account, and also corroborate accounts of Trump’s behavior offered by women who have accused him of sexual assault. From the New Yorker piece:
McDougal’s account is consistent with other descriptions of Trump’s behavior. Last month, In Touch Weekly published an interview conducted in 2011 with Stephanie Clifford in which she revealed that during a relationship with Trump she met him for dinner at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where Trump insisted they watch “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” alleged that Trump assaulted her at a private dinner meeting, in December of 2007, at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Trump, Zervos has claimed, kissed her, groped her breast, and suggested that they lie down to “watch some telly-telly.” After Zervos rebuffed Trump’s advances, she said that he “began thrusting his genitals” against her. (Zervos recently sued Trump for defamation after he denied her account.) All three women say that they were escorted to a bungalow at the hotel by a Trump bodyguard, whom two of the women have identified as Keith Schiller. After Trump was elected, Schiller was appointed director of Oval Office Operations and deputy assistant to the President. Last September, John Kelly, acting as the new chief of staff, removed Schiller from the White House posts. (Schiller did not respond to a request for comment.)
The New Yorker’s report indicates that four days before the 2016 election, American Media, Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, paid $150,000 for exclusive rights to McDougal’s account of her affair with Trump — effectively killing the story. David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, is personal friends with Trump, and these days the Enquirer serves as a fact-free propaganda rag for the president.
While Cohen has not disclosed why he paid Daniels $130,000, Daniels effectively confirmed the existence of a non-disclosure agreement about her relationship with Trump during a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s TV show.
Despite a mountain of evidence indicating that Daniels did indeed have an affair with Trump, Cohen has denied it ever occurred.