On Thursday, CNN aired an interview with Karen McDougal in which the former Playboy model discussed with Anderson Cooper her alleged affair with President Donald Trump. (The White House has denied the affair on Trump's behalf.) And amid the conversation, she told a story that's drawn a lot of attention ― specifically, McDougal said in her CNN interview that Trump tried to pay her after they had sex, just one of many alleged details she revealed.
This is the first time McDougal has spoken out on-camera about her alleged affair with the president. Earlier this week, she sued the parent company of The National Enquirer over a deal she reportedly struck with the tabloid during the 2016 presidential election. A White House spokesperson told The New Yorker that Trump denies he had an affair with McDougal, calling it an "old story" and "fake news." Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment.
McDougal reportedly sold her story to the Enquirer for $150,000, but rather than run it, the tabloid spiked the story, a practice known in the industry as "catch and kill." According to CNN, The National Enquirer says McDougal could have spoken out at any time dating back to 2016, and denies "silencing" her.
McDougal told Cooper that after a sexual encounter with Trump ― one of "many dozens" she alleges occurred ― he attempted to pay her, an offer which greatly bothered her.
"After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me. And I actually didn't know how to take that," McDougal said. "I said, I mean, I just had this look of, I don't even know how to describe, the look on my face must have been so sad, because I'd never been offered money like that before, number one. But number two, I thought, does he think that I'm in this for money?"
"I looked at him, and I said, 'That's not me, I'm not that kind of girl," she continued. "And he said, 'Oh,' and he said, 'You're really special.'" According to McDougal, she cried on her way home.
McDougal, 46, is not one of the president’s many liberal critics. To the contrary, she told Cooper that she’s a Republican, and actually voted for Trump over Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Cooper pointed out that the deal McDougal struck with The National Enquirer’s parent company ― which is owned by a man who’s called himself “a personal friend” of Trump’s ― might make some viewers suspect she’s motivated by money, or a desire to damage Trump. McDougal then denied that she had any desire to hurt Trump, stating that she supported his candidacy.
“I voted for the president. I voted for Donald. Why would I want to damage him? That’s my party, Republican Party, that’s my president.”
McDougal also made a specific claim about Trump that will sound very familiar to anyone who’s been following the ongoing Stormy Daniels story. Namely, like Daniels, McDougal claims the president compared her to his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump. Cooper asked McDougal if Trump ever compared her to any of his children, and she responded affirmatively.
“You know, he’s very proud of Ivanka, as he should be. I mean, she’s a brilliant woman, she’s beautiful, that’s his daughter and he should be proud of her. He said I was beautiful like her,” McDougal said. “There wasn’t a lot of comparing, but there was some. I heard a lot about her.”
In a 2011 interview with In Touch magazine, Daniels claimed she had a sexual relationship with Trump, and that he also compared her to “his daughter” ― presumably Ivanka, as his only other daughter, Tiffany, was a child at the time. The White House has also contradicted Daniels’ claims of an affair with Trump, saying the president denies the allegations.
It’s yet unclear whether the White House will address McDougal’s allegations any further. But from the looks of things, she’s entirely willing to speak out about it ― and to a nationally televised audience, for that matter.