‘Woman-1’ in Trump’s indictment is Karen McDougal, not Stormy

Karen McDougal (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Playboy)

According to New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the “catch and kill” — to kill a news story — scheme that led to a historic indictment of a president didn’t start with Stormy Daniels.

“As part of this scheme, Donald Trump and others made three payments to people who claimed to have negative information about Mr. Trump,” Bragg said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The first payout was to stop former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom Bragg called “Woman #1”, from revealing in a TV interview what she claimed was a 9-month affair with the married president. Brian Ross, then chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, and I were the reporters Trump wanted to silence, to “catch and kill” our story.

It wasn’t until 2020 that McDougal finally broke his silence, speaking with Ross now at the Abrams Media Law&Crime Network, about the “catch and kill” operation.

Brian Ross: As you remember, before you signed the deal, you were talking with me and Rhonda Schwartz about doing an interview when we were working at ABC News then. And then it was cancelled.

Karen McDougal: The deal was canceled because we had signed an agreement with AMI for me to work and never talk about it again. We never speak of the relationship again.

In October 2016, just days before she was to be interviewed by Ross at ABC about what she claimed was a 9-month affair that began shortly after the birth of her son Baron, McDougal called off. “due to family issues”. It was a few weeks before the presidential election.

Brian Ross: So Karen, looking back on this four-year saga, would you perhaps wish you had done the interview with us and called it over?

Karen McDougal: Yes, actually. It was quite a big ordeal. I just wish I had been clear at the start. Let it out and relax after that, because it was kind of a nightmare for a while. In every sense of the word and from A to Z, it was a real nightmare.

Karen McDougal: Brian, that was very scary. In fact, I went into hiding for a while. Even though he is hiding, I have had strange people following me and knocking on my door.

We had spent months corroborating McDougal’s story, talking to his friends and then-attorney Keith Davidson, who provided us with McDougal’s detailed and contemporary diary – sex with Donald Trump was labeled “DT”. Davidson later represented Stormy Daniels in a similar negotiation, also part of the indictment.

But perhaps the most intriguing detail were photographs of gifts Trump gave her that McDougal shared with us. McDougal, a religious woman, described them as “cheap religious artifacts”. Trump told her they were from a Beverly Hills home he intended to buy for their dates.

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