Former Playboy model Karen McDougal dropped several bombshell allegations in her sit-down with Anderson Cooper to discuss – for the first time on TV – her alleged 10-month affair with Donald Trump before he became President.
McDougal filed a lawsuit earlier this week against American Media Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer, to seek to end a contract with the company, which she claims bought up her rights to tell her story under false circumstances and then killed the story to protect Trump as he ran for president.
The company told CNN that McDougal “has been free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with President Trump since 2016” and had not “silenced” her. Representatives for Trump have denied an affair occurred.
Here are nine key claims from her interview that aired Thursday night:
Trump tried to pay her for sex
McDougal said Trump tried to hand her money after they allegedly had sex for the first time.
“After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me,” McDougal said. “And I actually didn’t know how to take that.”
“But I looked at him and I said, ‘That’s not me. I’m not that kind of girl,’” McDougal recalled. “And he said ‘Oh,’ and he said, ‘You’re really special.’ And I was like, ‘Thank you.’”
That exchange with Trump “really hurt” McDougal and she cried on her way back home after that first physical encounter with Trump.
‘There was a real relationship there’
McDougal first met Trump in the summer of 2006, during the filming of “Celebrity Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
The former Playboy model said she was attracted to Trump and thought he was “an interesting person” and “brilliant.”
After that first meeting, they began seeing each other “minimum five times a month, up to bigger numbers per month” and were intimate many dozens of times, according to McDougal.
“There was a real relationship there,” McDougal said. “There were feelings between the two of us.”
McDougal said that she was in love with Trump at the time and claimed Trump’s feelings were reciprocal.
“Did Donald Trump ever say to you that he loved you?” Cooper asked.
“All the time. He always told me he loved me,” McDougal replied.
Didn’t keep evidence of relationship
Cooper asked McDougal if she kept any text messages, photographs or videos as proof of her and Trump’s alleged affair.
“Let me just say this, if you’re in a loving relationship, do you try and collect evidence?” she said.
She said the only thing she kept was a daily journal, which she shared with CNN, claiming it documented the time she saw Trump.
‘I voted for Donald’
McDougal said she is a “die-hard Republican” and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The former Playboy model at first didn’t want to come forward with her story.
“I voted for the President,” she said. “I voted for Donald. Why would I want to damage him? That’s my party, Republican Party. That’s my president. I did not want to damage him or hurt him in any way, shape or form, but I also didn’t want to put out the story because I didn’t want my reputation to be damaged.”
‘It’s not me’ lying about affair
McDougal was asked what she thought of former Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks’ denial that McDougal and Trump had an affair.
“I think somebody’s lying, and I can tell you it’s not me,” McDougal said. “It’s a little hurtful, but at the same time I have to understand, like, if he were to have told Hope that he didn’t do it, I guess I understand, because he’s trying to protect his family, his image, things like that.”
“But it was definitely a little like, ‘Wow, you’re going to lie about that? OK.’”
McDougal entered agreement, but now thinks it was more to protect Trump
McDougal said she entered the deal with American Media Inc. thinking that it was a “win-win” situation for her.
She wouldn’t have her story about her alleged affair with Trump go public and she could launch a new career writing health and fitness columns.
“I’m an older model now. They wanted to make something a new start. You know, they promised me all these wonderful, beautiful things,” she said, adding, “I get to work, and my story doesn’t have to come out.”
But after signing the agreement in August 2016, McDougal accused the company of “not fulfilling what they promised me” and only paying her about half of the $150,000 they owe her.
McDougal said she offered to give the money back “just to have my story rights back.”
When asked if she now thinks the company wanted to protect Trump, McDougal said, “I’m assuming so, yes.”
She also said at one point American Media CEO and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who considers himself a friend of Trump’s, thanked her for her loyalty.
Trump on the Access Hollywood tape ‘not the man that I knew’
Cooper asked McDougal what she thought when she heard the “Access Hollywood” tape that surfaced during the 2016 campaign, in which Trump could be heard boasting about grabbing women’s genitals.
“I was disgusted. I had not seen that in him at all,” McDougal said. “Like when our relationship was going on, I didn’t see that side of him at all.”
She continued, “That’s not the man that I knew.”
McDougal added that she was troubled when women came forward during the campaign with accusations of sexual harassment and assault against Trump.
“I was kind of mortified. I was like, ‘Wow, is he capable of that?’ Because I didn’t see that,” she said.
Says ‘sorry’ to Melania, regrets that Trump was married
McDougal said she now knows the alleged affair was “wrong” and claims she’s returned to her roots of her faith and is attending church.
“When I look back, where I was back then, I know it’s wrong. Like I’m really sorry for that. I know it’s the wrong thing to do,” she told Cooper. “Back in that day, I was a different girl.”
McDougal told Cooper she knew Trump was married to Melania, but she never brought it up during their alleged affair.
“Obviously, there’s a reason I don’t bring her up, because I felt guilty about it,” McDougal said, adding that she never knew for sure whether Melania was aware of their affair.
Asked what she would want to say to the first lady now, McDougal said, “I’m sorry. I wouldn’t want it done to me. I’m sorry.”
McDougal told Cooper, “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.”
Expects retaliation for speaking out
McDougal thinks she could face retaliation for speaking to CNN in the form of a “big lawsuit” against her or “financial ruin.”
“Am I scared? Like, do I feel threatened? Absolutely,” McDougal said. “But I feel I had to protect myself. I had to stand up for myself.”
“I’m quite mad at that. I’m angry,” McDougal said of her contract with American Media. “I feel taken advantage of in a sense. And I just want the right to be made. I want it to be right.”
McDougal said she filed the lawsuit because she wants her “life rights back.”