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Woman Who Alleges She Had An Affair With Trump Now Able To Talk Freely About It


One of Donald Trump's accusers is now able to talk freely about her alleged affair with the president that ended in 2007. Karen McDougal reached a settlement yesterday with American Media, Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer.

Three months before the 2016 presidential election, AMI paid McDougal $150,000. That was part of a deal negotiated by her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson. The company promised to publish health and fitness columns by McDougal in exchange for her story about a relationship with Donald Trump. The story was never published, and neither were many of the articles about fitness.

Earlier today, I talked to Karen McDougal's current lawyer Peter Stris, and I asked him what this settlement allows her to say publicly that she couldn't say before.

PETER STRIS: In our view, there was no restriction on her ability to speak. However, that was our reading of the contract. And when you have a settlement, and the contract is eliminated, which is effectively what happened here, that gives 100-percent certainty.

SHAPIRO: So then now there's no threat of consequences.

STRIS: There's no threat of consequences. That's one enormous thing that Karen wanted and that we accomplished. And then the second thing obviously that we accomplished is getting her rights to the story back.

SHAPIRO: So there has been public reporting that President Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen was involved in this original payoff. And you alleged in court documents that Michael Cohen was involved in this payoff. The question I want to ask you is do you have any reason to believe that President Trump himself was aware of or involved in that payoff a few months before the election.

STRIS: I mean, not any more than one would have reason to believe that President Trump was involved in Michael Cohen's $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels. You know, when you have...

SHAPIRO: It sounds like, yes, you do believe - you're saying in a roundabout way.

STRIS: Yeah. I won't be roundabout in saying it. What I will say is Michael Cohen is the president's personal lawyer and fixer. And it's hard to believe that when Mr. Cohen is putting deals in place specifically for the benefit of his client Donald Trump that Donald Trump was not aware and involved in some way. And that's the point of litigation. The point of litigation is that you can put people to their proof, and you can gather that information. Now in our case, the reason why we did not continue with the litigation is that AMI came to the table and gave Karen everything that we possibly could have accomplished in the lawsuit.

SHAPIRO: But that does not involve Michael Cohen. And you reserve the right to continue litigation involving Michael Cohen.

STRIS: Oh, that's absolutely right. This was a lawsuit against AMI. And it was a lawsuit that had one purpose only, which was to void the contract. And so with regard to Mr. Davidson, Karen's lawyer, Mr. Cohen and frankly President Trump - to the extent that he chooses to make false comments stating that Karen has lied - we've reserved the right, and we have the right to pursue legal action as appropriate.

SHAPIRO: So I hear you saying the settlement with AMI is the end of one chapter. But it's not the end of the book. Do you think that the documents that investigators seized in their raid of Michael Cohen's home office and hotel room could have an impact on your decision of whether or not to take further legal action?

STRIS: So here's what we know. We know that apparently Mr. Cohen recorded phone calls, including phone calls with Keith Davidson, and those have been seized. We know that the government has communications between Michael Cohen and American Media. And so those documents are extremely important for purposes of determining AMI's culpability. With regard to Karen and our case, we've accomplished what we needed with AMI. We're out of the contract.

And so with regard to Mr. Davidson and Mr. Cohen, you know, we'll be watching closely because, to the extent that information from that raid comes out and is troubling, it may very well prompt Karen to take further action. But if I'm being, you know, perfectly direct, I don't really think Karen needs too much additional information in order to take further action. I think it's more a personal decision on her part about whether she wants to move on or whether she believes that they need to be held to account.

SHAPIRO: That's Peter Stris, the attorney for Karen McDougal who allegedly had an affair with President Trump and just reached a settlement with the company that bought the rights to her story. Thanks so much for joining us today.

STRIS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUGGENZ'S "THIS LOVE I'VE MET") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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