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The Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump just settled her lawsuit. That’s good news for Michael Cohen.

We may never know if Michael Cohen was involved in this payoff.

by Carter Sherman
Apr 19 2018, 12:52am

The legal battle between Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Donald Trump, and the tabloid company American Media Inc. is officially over. And now we might never know whether Michael Cohen had a hand in secretly negotiating a settlement between the two, as he did with the porn star Stormy Daniels.

McDougal sold the rights to her story of her 2006-2007 affair with Trump to AMI, which publishes the National Enquirer, during the 2016 presidential election. Under the terms of that contract, McDougal was originally barred from speaking to any other media outlet about her story — even though AMI never actually ran it. Then, in March, McDougal sued AMI for allegedly tricking her into the deal: She claimed Cohen, who served as Trump’s longtime personal attorney and fixer, was secretly involved in her contract with AMI, and that AMI Chairman David Pecker mislead her into signing it. Pecker is a longtime personal friend of Trump.

But on Wednesday, McDougal and AMI settled, the New York Times reported. McDougal is now free to re-sell her story, as long as she gives AMI $75,000 of the profits, and to talk to anybody about it. (AMI did already amend her contract to allow her to answer “legitimate press inquiries,” and McDougal gave a wide-ranging interview to Anderson Cooper last month about the alleged affair.)

“It’s a total win,” McDougal’s lawyer, Peter Stris, told the Times. “We got everything we were fighting for — she got out of the contract, gets the life rights back, and owes A.M.I. nothing more.”

If her lawsuit had gone on, Stris said, he would have tried to force AMI to undergo discovery, which would have required internal records that could have shed light about how McDougal’s deal came about and whether Cohen interfered in it.

Still, there’s a chance those records may yet surface, since federal investigators raided Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room last week. Not only did they seize documents related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels, a porn star who said she also had an affair with Trump, but people involved in that case told the Times that the feds also took documents with information about McDougal’s case.

Cohen and Trump are still facing a lawsuit from Daniels requesting release from terms of the “hush agreement,” and permission to tell her story publicly.

Cover image: President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen exits the US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images.