Watch Anderson Cooper’s exclusive interview with Karen McDougal this Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.
A former Playboy model who allegedly had a 10-month affair with President Donald Trump is suing the company that kept her original account from publication.
Karen McDougal is suing to be released from an agreement mandating her silence.
McDougal is the latest woman to take legal action over an agreement restricting her from speaking out about an alleged relationship with the President prior to his time in government. The White House has said Trump denies the affair.
The New York Times first reported the lawsuit earlier Tuesday.
Shortly before the presidential election, the Wall Street Journal published a story saying American Media Inc., the company that owns The National Enquirer, paid $150,000 to McDougal, but did not run her story in a tabloid maneuver known as “catch and kill.” The contract, according to the Journal, did not require the Enquirer to run the story and required McDougal’s silence.
The New Yorker published an article last month that referenced an eight-page document McDougal wrote about the alleged affair, which a friend provided to the magazine and McDougal confirmed.
A corporate spokesman for American Media Inc. provided a statement to CNN in response to the suit, saying McDougal “has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with President Trump since 2016” and that the company had not “silenced” her. The statement reiterated the company’s position is that the contract gave American Media Inc. “the editorial discretion to publish her life story, and she promised to write health and fitness columns and appear on the cover of two magazines.”
“AMI has a valid contract with Karen and we look forward to reaching an amicable resolution satisfactory to her and to AMI,” the statement concluded.
The complaint from McDougal said the agreement permits her to “respond to ‘legitimate press inquiries’ about her relationship with Mr. Trump,” but alleges the company warns her to say nothing when contacted by the media and has threatened her with “financial ruin.”
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has taken Trump and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to court in an attempt to end a nondisclosure agreement that is alleged to require her to keep silent about an affair she had with Trump over a decade ago. Cohen and the White House have denied the affair.
Cohen admitted last month to facilitating a payment to Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, and lawyers for both him and Trump have claimed Clifford has violated the nondisclosure agreement and could owe a monetary penalty of more than $20 million.
The Times report said McDougal’s suit claims Cohen was “secretly involved” in her talks with American Media Inc., and outlines a number of similarities between the two. Both alleged affairs started in 2006, and both women originally shared the same attorney, Keith Davidson of Los Angeles.
In response to the original Journal story about the Enquirer and McDougal, American Media Inc. denied paying to kill damaging stories about Trump.
The news of McDougal’s suit came as New York judge allowed a defamation case brought by Summer Zervos, who has accused Trump of sexual assault, to move forward by denying a defense motion to dismiss the case.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the length of time of McDougal’s alleged affair with Trump.
CNN’s Brian Stelter and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.