WASHINGTON • A former Playboy model has made allegations of an affair with Donald Trump a decade before he became US President, describing complex legal and financial agreements in an alleged bid to cover it up.
Ms Karen McDougal, 46, the magazine's 1998 "Playmate of the year", claims that she and Mr Trump had a sexual relationship in 2006, months after Mr Trump's wife Melania gave birth to his youngest son.
The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but in a statement to NBC a spokesman said the President had previously denied having a relationship with Ms McDougal, calling the claims "fake news".
According to the New Yorker, the nine-month relationship ended quietly, but years later - during the 2016 presidential campaign - Ms McDougal sold her story.
The New Yorker reported that on Aug 5, 2016, Ms McDougal agreed to give American Media, which publishes the National Inquirer tabloid, exclusive rights over "any romantic, personal, or physical relationship she has ever had with any 'then-married man'". The deal is alleged to have been worth US$150,000 (S$196,000), but the story never ran.
Former American Media employees told The New Yorker that the company's chairman and chief executive David Pecker, who is close to Mr Trump, routinely bought stories with no intention of running them, sometimes using the pieces as leverage. The company denied the practice in a statement.
Ms McDougal told the New Yorker of the alleged payment: "I'm the one who took it, so it's my fault, too. But I didn't understand the full parameters of it."
"I knew that I couldn't talk about any alleged affair with any married man, but I didn't really understand the whole content of what I gave up," she added.
Ms McDougal wrote an eight-page note, obtained by The New Yorker, which detailed the alleged relationship with Mr Trump.
The affair began after Ms McDougal and Mr Trump met at a party at the Playboy Mansion in June 2006, the magazine reported. The pair began talking by phone and soon met for a private dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
DID NOT UNDERSTAND
I'm the one who took it, so it's my fault, too. But I didn't understand the full parameters of it. I knew that I couldn't talk about any alleged affair with any married man, but I didn't really understand the whole content of what I gave up.
FORMER PLAYBOY MODEL KAREN MCDOUGAL, on accepting payment from American Media for her story of her affair with Mr Donald Trump in 2006.
"I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man," Ms McDougal wrote in the note about the encounter. "We talked for a couple hours - then, it was 'ON'! We got naked + had sex."
The relationship allegedly continued until April 2007, when Ms McDougal called it off, partly out of guilt and partly because of racially insensitive and disrespectful comments Mr Trump had made.
The model's story strongly echoes allegations of an affair between Mr Trump and the porn star Stephanie Clifford - known as Stormy Daniels - during the same period.
In that case, the President's personal lawyer admitted to paying Ms Daniels US$130,000 but refused to say why.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES