Karen McDougal, the woman who claims that she had an affair with Donald Trump after they met in 2006, filed a defamation lawsuit against Fox News on Thursday over a Tucker Carlson Tonight segment in which he inferred that she engaged in extortion.
It was McDougal, a former Playboy model, who sold her story to the National Enquirer just before the 2016 election, but did not publish it, in a practice known as “catch and kill.” Federal prosecutors later said that American Media CEO David Pecker coordinated with Trump’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen, to pay McDougal and later be reimbursed.
In December of last year, Carlson said that the “facts are undisputed” that McDougal and another woman who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, Stormy Daniels, “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.”
Carlson added, “Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion.”
In her lawsuit, McDougal’s attorney Eric Bernstein wrote, “Carlson asserted several ‘facts’ regarding McDougal which are demonstrably false,” the lawsuit stated. “Indeed, every individual involved in the payment that Trump caused to be made to McDougal never once stated that she extorted Trump or otherwise committed any crime or unlawful act whatsoever.”
Bernstein added in the lawsuit, “This statement is completely untrue and was made knowing it was untrue and with reckless disregard for the truth.”
Her lawsuit claims that “every individual involved in this transaction never once mentioned, implied or otherwise indicated that McDougal extorted Trump.” Carlson, the lawsuit claims, apparently failed to speak with Trump, Pecker, Cohen, AMI, or McDougal as to why or under what circumstances Trump caused McDougal to be paid $150,000 prior to making the aforementioned statements on the show.”
The lawsuit (read here) was filed in New York state court. A Fox News spokesperson said, “Fox News will vigorously defend Tucker Carlson against these meritless claims.”
Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges of campaign violations. tax fraud and bank fraud, as well as lying to Congress.
McDougal’s lawsuit seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.