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Lawyer says former Playboy model Karen McDougal had sexual relationship with Trump

"It was a romantic relationship, they were together very often," her attorney told "TODAY."
by Adam Edelman /  / Updated 

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Former Playboy model Karen McDougal has filed a lawsuit for the right to speak publicly about what her lawyer says was a "sexual relationship" she had with Donald Trump more than a decade ago.

"It was a romantic relationship," the attorney, Peter Stris, told NBC News in an interview that aired Wednesday on "Today."

"They were together very often," he said, adding that affair lasted 10 months and ended in April 2007. Trump was married to his third wife, Melania, at the time.

It's what happened years after that, however, that prompted the suit, which was filed Tuesday.

McDougal is suing the parent company of the National Enquirer, seeking to void a nondisclosure agreement she says she signed shortly before the 2016 election that bars her from discussing the alleged affair.

McDougal was allegedly paid $150,000 for her silence by American Media Inc., whose CEO, David Pecker, has a friendly relationship with the president.

The White House and a lawyer for Trump have denied that he had a relationship with McDougal.

In her lawsuit, McDougal alleges that she was misled about the deal by the publishing company when she signed it. The company, McDougal said in a statement, "lied to me, made empty promises, and repeatedly intimidated and manipulated me."

Stris told NBC News that “to say that she was misled is a nice, lawyerly way to be kind to American Media.”

The lawyer who negotiated McDougal's 2016 agreement was "colluding" with Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney, and AMI, which would "make this contract illegal," Stris said.

"This lawyer brought her to American Media and together they convinced her that she was signing a publish — a modeling and publishing deal," he said.

McDougal "is not someone who signed a hush agreement and regrets it. This is someone who was taken advantage of by a consortium of interests, including a massive company that happens to be run by someone who is personal friends with the president of the United States," he added.

McDougal's suit comes just a month after The New Yorker reported that Trump and his allies concealed his alleged affair with McDougal through secret meetings, payoffs and legal arrangements.

The suit, however, makes the former model the second woman this month to take legal action in order to speak publicly about an alleged past relationship with the president.

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, is also locked in a legal battle with Trump and his team over a nondisclosure agreement arranged by his lawyer that she signed shortly before the 2016 election. Clifford has alleged she had a "intimate" relationship with the president more than a decade ago, a claim that the White House and Trump's attorney have denied.

Cohen, Trump's lawyer, says he "facilitated" a $130,000 payment to Clifford with his personal funds, and was not reimbursed by the Trump Organization or the campaign.

Earlier this month, Clifford sued Trump, saying the secrecy agreement she signed isn’t valid because Trump himself never signed it. Trump and Cohen has since moved the suit to federal court and want a judge to push the matter into private arbitration.

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