Former president Trump was charged with making hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. However, the case also focuses on two less well-known indirect payments that kept Playboy model Karen McDougal and a doorman from speaking out about Trump's alleged sexual encounters.
So long, Daniels was the only one who was hogging the limelight in the hush money case but the focus shifted to McDougal on Tuesday after it was revealed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that McDougal was paid a whopping $150,000 in indirect payment to keep quiet about Trump's alleged sexual rendezvous. So, who is McDougal and what was her relationship with the former US president?
Money to Keep Silent
McDougal, 52, a former model for Playboy who was voted "Playmate of the Year" in 1998, allegedly had a 10-month-long affair with Trump in 2006.
The Trump-aligned American Media Inc (AMI), the corporate parent of the National Enquirer, paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story to prevent her from going public with it ahead of the 2016 presidential election â a practice known in the publishing industry as "catch and kill."
AMI acknowledged the relationship in a non-prosecution agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney's office in 2018. Trump did not want the woman to go public, according to prosecutors, who said in a charging document on Tuesday that he was "concerned about the effect it could have on his candidacy."
They said that David Pecker, the former CEO of AMI, and Trump's longtime friend and attorney Michael Cohen had agreed that Trump would pay AMI back. Yet, after speaking with a corporate lawyer, Pecker finally decided against seeking reimbursement.
McDougal, much like Daniels, also claimed she had an affair with Trump. She said it lasted 10 months but Trump has denied it ever happened.
According to Trump's attorneys, the former president was unaware of the payment until after the contract had been finalized. In his testimony to the grand jury in the Trump case last week, Pecker reportedly linked Trump to the agreement as well as to a larger conspiracy to bury stories critical of him during the 2016 election.
According to Cohen, he set up the payment to be made by the Enquirer and recorded a conversation in which he discussed the payment with Trump.
Lover or Gold Digger?
McDougal, who was born in Merrillville, Indiana, began learning ballet as a child before switching to cheerleading in high school. She referred to herself as a "wholesome little Karen" and claimed to go by the moniker "Barbie" in an interview with Playboy.
She was a pre-kindergarten teacher before becoming a model in the 1990s and went on to star in music videos, TV shows, and films.
McDougal joined Playboy, where she went on to emerge second behind Pamela Anderson in the "Playmate of the 90s" poll and win Playmate of the Year in 1998.
She then worked as a fitness model, making history in 1999 when she became the first woman to grace the cover of Men's Fitness. She also made brief acting appearances in TV commercials and supporting parts, including an uncredited cameo in the Charlie's Angels movie from 2000.
According to McDougal, she met Trump at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, where he was filming an episode of The Apprentice, according to a 2006 article in the New Yorker magazine.
She later wrote that Trump, who was married at the time, "immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me - telling me how beautiful I was, etc".
McDougal claimed Trump tried to pay her for the first time following their first sexual encounter in a Beverly Hills hotel bungalow in 2006. She claimed that after that, the relationship lasted for almost 10 months before she ended it out of guilt in April 2007.
Before the 2016 presidential election, McDougal agreed to an exclusive interview with the tabloid publication, the National Enquirer, for a sum of $150,000.
She was forbidden from discussing the alleged affair in public by the agreement. The piece, however, was never published, and McDougal maintains that she was duped into keeping quiet about the romance.
McDougal has maintained silence about the New York allegations against Trump since his arrest.