American Media Inc. reached a settlement Wednesday afternoon with former Playboy model Karen McDougal, releasing her from a 2016 contract that she claimed prevented her from speaking freely about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump.
The settlement ends a lawsuit brought by McDougal against the National Enquirer publisher on March 20, which AMI had petitioned an L.A. County Superior Court to dismiss on April 2.
McDougal claims the company deliberately misled her about its intention to kill her story after acquiring the rights to it for $150,000 months before the 2016 election, and that her then-attorney, Keith Davidson—whose name tends to surface time and again in lawsuits related to celebrity sex scandals—had acted in bad faith by not disclosing his own ties to AMI or his alleged coordination with Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
The company, which wrote in a statement that McDougal “has always been free to talk about her relationship with President Trump,” has consistently denied wrongdoing, characterizing the decision not to publish her account of her affair with Trump as purely an editorial one, and that the contract primarily constituted a partnership to produce fitness content for other titles in the company’s portfolio.
Contrary to McDougal’s claims and reporting from The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow—who won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this week for his reporting on a separate scandal in which AMI allegedly played a role—the company says its CEO, David Pecker, and chief content officer, Dylan Howard, have never engaged in “catch and kill” tactics specifically to protect President Trump, a known friend of Pecker’s.
In a series of statements over the past month, AMI has referred to claims by McDougal and her current attorney, Peter Stris, as “untrue” and “completely without merit.”
Pursuant to Wednesday’s 30-page agreement, McDougal will appear on the September cover of Men’s Journal, accompanied by a feature-length article inside the book, and AMI will be entitled to compensation of up to $75,000 should McDougal re-sell her story to another outlet.