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AT THIS HOUR

Ex-Playmate Details Alleged Affair with Trump; Karen McDougal's Message to Melania Trump. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:30:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Or this -- this become suddenly in the forefront for you again?

KAREN MCDOUGAL, FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL: I was watching the Republican debate with a friend named Johnny, one of my good friends from many years ago, and he said, you know, this story is a big story. I said, no way. Not going to happen. I go, you know where I stand on this, I will never say anything. We dropped it.

COOPER: Johnny was saying this story, meaning your story, the story of your relationship?

MCDOUGAL: Right.

COOPER: Your alleged relationship with Donald Trump.

MCDOUGAL: Right. Johnny is a Democrat, but I'm a Republican.

COOPER: You're a Republican?

MCDOUGAL: I am. I voted for Donald, yes, I did. There you have it.

Yes. So we dropped it. But then later on, maybe a week or two later, an ex-friend or old friend of mine started on social media talking about my relationship and she was part of that, she knows everything. And she had started putting it out there, so it was being seen. So I came to Johnny one day and said, Johnny, look what she's doing. I said, do I need to worry about this? He's, like, absolutely, you do. He said you need to get ahead of this story now before everyone else takes your story and manipulates it any way they want to manipulate it and make it this very ugly thing. You need to control your story and tell your truth. I said, yes, you're right. That's what we decided to do. That's where Johnny one day comes over and he's, like, you know, our mutual friend that we have found this guy named Keith and he's going to help you share your story.

COOPER: Keith Davidson?

MCDOUGAL: Yes.

COOPER: An attorney?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. COOPER: An attorney who also was an attorney for Stormy Daniels.

MCDOUGAL: I didn't know that. Yes.

COOPER: And others in this business.

MCDOUGAL: Clearly.

COOPER: So what did you do then? You contacted Davidson?

MCDOUGAL: I didn't. Johnny did. Johnny and the mutual friend contacted Davidson. Within a matter of a couple of days, Keith came out and we had lunch together and he wanted to know details. So we sat down at lunch for a couple of hours, I gave him details, and Keith is, like, you any, this story is worth many, many millions. I'm, like, hmm. OK. So we talked about it. And that's when Keith brought it to AMI.

COOPER: So did you know that Keith -- your attorney was going to go to AMI, which is the parent company, which owns "National Enquirer" and other magazines?

MCDOUGAL: He said AMI. I didn't know what AMI was to be honest. He said AMI, we have this company that they'll probably want to hear your story. So --

COOPER: What was the thought of selling the story in your mind?

MCDOUGAL: To get my truth out there. I wasn't looking for money, clearly. When he said it is worth many millions, I'm, like, you know --

COOPER: That was something hard to pass up?

MCDOUGAL: Sure. Of course. But, if you fast-forward, I ended up not wanting to do that deal. So we were going to go to ABC and tell the story just to get the story out there and for nothing. There was no pay.

COOPER: And did Keith have a meeting with AMI?

MCDOUGAL: We did. We had a meeting with AMI.

COOPER: You told them your story?

MCDOUGAL: We told them the story. They didn't think it was very credible, even though, off the record, they said Dillon believes your story. But clearly, when they came back, they said it wasn't believable.

COOPER: Dillon being --

MCDOUGAL: Dillon Howard, he's with AMI. So they had, like, a 12-hour window to -- probably skipping around, I'm sorry. They had a 12-hour window to accept whether they wanted the story or not and they didn't want the story. COOPER: Once Donald Trump won the Republican nomination --

MCDOUGAL: Correct.

COOPER: -- you're saying AMI suddenly came back to you with interest in the story.

MCDOUGAL: To Keith, yes, for us for the story, yes.

COOPER: Why do you think it was it was after Donald Trump was the Republican nominee that they came back?

MCDOUGAL: They wanted to squash the story.

COOPER: You're saying they wanted to protect Donald Trump?

MCDOUGAL: I'm assuming so, yes. But the offer, which we didn't discuss yet, or haven't discussed was, you know, they had offered me a big, you know, contract for work, for modeling, and fitness, and things like that. My life has always been health and fitness, so.

COOPER: They said they were going to have you be a columnist, you would write columns about health and fitness.

MCDOUGAL: Right. They said I would write columns. I would get one article per month in "OK" magazine, one article per month in "Star" magazine for two years, and four columns per month on "Radar Online" for two years and two magazine covers. And their reasoning was, like, you know, you've been a successful model, fitness, et cetera, we want to help you continue and we want to rebrand you. And, you know, you're older now, so we want to jump start into a new career for you and really get you out there to work. And I'm, like, this is perfect. Like, who doesn't -- what model wouldn't want that, especially as an older model. This is great, right? So, yes, but then the side deal was, oh, we're squashing the story. OK, it is a win-win for me, like, I get the work, and my story doesn't have to come out.

[11:35:12] COOPER: If Donald Trump hadn't been running for president, do you believe this deal would have been made with AMI, knowing what you know now?

MCDOUGAL: Probably not, no. Probably not.

COOPER: You're pretty convinced now this was an effort to do a favor for Donald Trump in the last few months of the presidential race?

MCDOUGAL: Unfortunately, yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Still ahead, former playmate, Karen McDougal, has a message for first lady, Melania Trump. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BERWAK)

[11:40:00] CABRERA: Welcome back to this special edition of AT THIS HOUR. We have more now of Anderson Cooper's interview with Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model, who claims she had an affair with Donald Trump. McDougal said she's now worried she might face a lawsuit over this issue.

Here's part four of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Do you know what happens next with AMI, I mean, now that you're speaking here?

MCDOUGAL: There can be a big lawsuit, like, against me. There could be financial ruin. But that's why I have a really good attorney to make sure that doesn't happen. Am I scared? Do I feel threatened? Absolutely. But I feel I had to protect myself. I had to stand up for myself. And, you know, I almost feel violated in the fact that I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes. So I'm quite mad at that. I'm angry. I feel taken advantage of in a sense. I just want the right to be made, I want it to be right.

COOPER: You filed a lawsuit, but you are speaking to us, so what is the point of the lawsuit?

MCDOUGAL: Why did I file a lawsuit?

COOPER: Yes.

MCDOUGAL: I want my rights back.

COOPER: You want the rights -- the life rights to --

(CROSSTALK)

MCDOUGAL: I want my life rights back. You know, it has been -- yes, I want my life rights back. I feel like the contract is illegal. I feel like I wasn't presented correctly. I was lied to. And everybody involved in this deal. I want the rights back, and I want to share my truth because everyone else is talking about my truth, which -- I need to share my story. Everyone else is talking about it. I never talked. Since the day it happened, I refused to speak publicly, privately even. My friends know, my family know, but nobody else knows. I wanted to keep it quiet. Now that it is out, I need to control it. I need to control it.

COOPER: Do you feel better having spoken?

MCDOUGAL: I do, in a sense. I do because I'm actually standing up for myself now and I didn't do that before. And now people know my truth. I'm not a liar. I am perceived as a liar or this and that, all these bad names. I did what I did. I'm not proud of it. I feel terrible about it. But I'm a new woman, new creation, and I'm standing up for myself.

COOPER: Would you have come forward publicly if Stormy Daniels hadn't come forward? Do you think that made an impact on you? MCDOUGAL: I definitely think it made a little bit of an impact on me.

It gives you more -- it takes a little bit of the fear away. However, I probably would have just because, as I'm learning about this contract and the people involved and the way I was treated and all the behind-the-scenes things that I wasn't aware about, and all the work I'm not getting, which I contracted for, yes, I probably would have come forward. If you didn't get what you were told in a contract workwise, wouldn't you say something? Of course.

COOPER: Do you have any regrets about the relationship you say you had with him?

MCDOUGAL: Back then?

COOPER: Yes.

MCDOUGAL: The only regret I have about the relationship that I had with Donald was the fact that he was married. If he weren't married, I wouldn't have any regrets because he treated me very kind. He was very respectful. As I told you, it was a good relationship while it happened. Now, had I known at the time there were supposedly all these other women, no, I wouldn't have been in the relationship. But I didn't know that at the time. No, no regrets except the fact that he was married.

COOPER: If Melania Trump is watching this, what would you want her to know?

MCDOUGAL: A tough one.

COOPER: Or say to her?

MCDOUGAL: Yes. What can you say, except I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I wouldn't want it done to me. I'm sorry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: CNN reached out to the first lady to see if she has any response to McDougal's apology. We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:48:21] CABRERA: Former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, speaking exclusively to CNN in her first TV interview, saying she had a 10- month relationship with Donald Trump before he was president, but while he was married. It's an affair Ms. Dougal now says she now regrets. An affair the White House says never happened in the first place.

Joining us now to talk more about it all, CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett, and family law and civil attorney, Erin Ehrlich, CNN political analyst, Kirsten Powers.

Erin, I'll start with you.

Viewers were obviously watching that, judging the woman's credibility. Does she seem credible to you?

ERIN EHRLICH, FAMILY LAW & CIVIL ATTORNEY: I don't think people care about this story anymore. I don't think the public is interested any more than they would be interested in a soap opera. What the public cares about is whether there's legal implications for Donald Trump. I think there's really a possibility on two different fronts. If Karen McDougal is allowed to continue her litigation in state court, he may be called as a witness. He'll be required to deposed and have to give testimony under oath with the threat of perjury. These are the things that's the public really care about. But if you're asking me if I thought she was credible, I thought she did a very convincing and compelling story.

CABRERA: And if her case moves forward, legally speaking, that credibility, obviously, does matter.

EHRLICH: Yes.

CABRERA: But when it comes to how this is playing, Kirsten, politically, does her speaking out, laying out her story in such a candid way, the details she provides, does it make a difference politically for Donald Trump?

[11:49:48] KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANAYST: I don't think so. Look, it didn't even make that much of a difference that he was accused of, you know, sexual assault. So I think a consensual affair 10 years ago isn't really going to make much of a difference to voters.

My big question for her is, what does she want? I thought the biggest new information that came out of the interview last night was she actually wanted the story to be killed. So this idea that she was somehow duped into having the story killed, that's actually not true. She wanted the story to be killed. And it seems she now is upset that she didn't -- that they're not honoring the contract in terms of giving her more columns or more covers or something like that. But she has no problem with it. And it sounds like she struck a bad deal. She had a bad contract and things didn't go her way, but it doesn't sound like -- it doesn't make sense to me now, if she wanted the story killed, why she's coming out and sharing all these details.

CABRERA: The other piece of that, Erin, I think is interesting, it's not just Karen McDougal, but also Stormy Daniels. They're kind of in the same boat that they're going through this legal action in order to be able to have the right back to share their stories, yet, we kind of know their stories now. So what does that mean for the legal case?

EHRLICH: Exactly. It leaves some overarching questions about the viability of the nondisclosure agreement, or even a buy-off agreement like the one like Karen McDougal signed. Are they really a viable tool to keep people quiet? It's only as good as the threat. If people aren't scared of the threat that's contained in the agreement, they're going to go out and talk.

Both women are arguing that these agreements were invalid for whatever reason. For Stormy Daniels, it was that Donald Trump didn't put his John Hancock on the agreement, so it's not thereby enforceable. But Karen McDougal, she's alleging that she was induced into the agreement under false pretenses, as you've already said. Whether that's true or not, it seems like her attorney may have misled her, her attorney at the time, who was negotiating this contract for her. It seems like he may have misled her into believing, number one, that the "National Enquirer" was going to report this story.

POWERS: She actually said last night that that's not the agreement that she struck.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: In the second agreement, she said she was relieved, that she was happy, like, wow, I'm going to get paid and --

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: -- my story wouldn't come out and I get to have this new career.

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: And so now -- right. But that has nothing to do with Donald Trump. By the way, they do catch and kill all the time for people that aren't running for president. This isn't something that they just did for Donald Trump.

EHRLICH: On that point, that's actually an interesting point that you bring up. Because it does potentially implicate him on a different potential level, which is on federal campaign finance laws, for federal campaign finance laws.

Now, this is, going down the line, discovery is going to have to reveal where this money came from, how this came about, but the problem is that corporations are not allowed to give a contribution to a federal candidate. Now, if the overarching company for "National Enquirer" did actually made this payoff and it can be deemed a campaign contribution, there could be a problem.

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: Let me bring in Kate Bennett, because there's a political side of it, a legal side of it. There's also family impact.

Kate, you asked the first lady's office for comment on this interview. What did you hear back?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Nothing. I got silence. No response. I don't think that is unusual for this first lady or her office. She's very independent. She's handling this with silence.

But I do think people care about this story because, as you said, it's a human issue. These were some real sort of gut-punch reveals last night in this interview. There was a woman saying that they used the "L" word, "love." She was in the apartment. She even stood in a photograph with Melania Trump. These are things that, for the first lady, must be, very difficult to hear, for anyone. There is a human element that we can't overlook. And I think the first lady, who has a speech later today at the State Department, ironically, about women and courage, this is her moving forward trying to gain some footing, trying to get an agenda going, and meanwhile, these headlines, she can't seem to escape them.

CABRERA: And the president can't seem to escape these headlines.

Kirsten, this is a president who can't help but punch back when he feels like he is under attack. He has been silent on these stories. What do you make of that?

POWER: I think probably he's trying not to draw attention to them. He punches back when he wants to draw attention to something. There is no reason for him to be drawing attention to these.

And I think Kate is right, people care about this story like they're interested in it, but I think that's different than are they going to vote on it. To a certain extent, people cared that Bill Clinton had a long affair with Gennifer Flowers. OK, but it didn't really impact -

(CROSSTALK)

POWERS: Yes, it's more of a curiosity. I just don't think it comes into play that much when it comes to elections.

And I also think there's something strange about what she's doing. She said she didn't want the story to come out, and now she's saying I want to tell my story, but we already know your story. So what are you saying, like you need to tell us all the sordid details?

(CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: I wonder if her story in any way impacts Stormy Daniels' story. One detail she shared was during this golf trip in Tahoe -- which is when Stormy Daniels had her encounter, she says, with the president as well -- Karen McDougal said she was with him the entire time besides when he was golfing. And when she was asked and pressed on that, she -- what do you make of her answer, and could it have been when Stormy Daniels saw him?

[11:55:24] EHRLICH: Maybe. I actually think -- I don't think the underlying story really matters at this point. I have to believe that both women and their team understand that the actual story of these sordid affair really doesn't matter to the public more than, like I said, as a soap opera, as an interest in watching "The Bachelor," for example.

CABRERA: OK --

(CROSSTALK)

EHRLICH: But what does matter is how these deals came about. Who was involved with them, who knew about them, where was this money coming from, and why were Donald Trump's friends being so chivalrous to pay over $100,000 to each of these women? (CROSSTALK)

CABRERA: OK, we'll have to leave it there.

Thank you so much, ladies.

EHRLICH: Thank you.

KIRSTEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Thank you very much as well, Kate Bennett, from Washington.

And thank you for joining us for this special edition of AT THIS HOUR.

INSIDE POLITICS with John King is next, after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)