Yesterday Donald Trump’s campaign flat-out denied allegations that the candidate cheated on his current wife with a Playboy model, calling the story, which was published in the Wall Street Journal Friday, “totally untrue.” But photographs posted last year on the model’s Twitter account corroborate at least some of the anecdotes reported by the paper.
According to the Journal, former Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal sold her story to American Media Inc.—the parent company of the National Enquirer—in August for $150,000. McDougal, the paper reports, claimed to have had an affair with Trump in 2006, a year after he married his current wife, Melania.
The deal between AMI and McDougal meant she would be fined $150,000 for talking about the affair, which makes sense if the paper was trying to seal up the exclusive. But the paper sat on the allegations, and with three days left to go until the election it seems unlikely to publish now. In fact, according to the Journal, which spoke to people familiar with the deal, the company never planned on publishing—the payment was a “catch and kill” intended only to keep McDougal quiet.
But now other people are talking. The Journal spoke to several friends of McDougal’s, who say that she told them at the time she was having an affair with Trump that lasted about ten months. Another friend tells the paper that she and McDougal attended the 2006 Miss Universe pageant at Trump’s invitation.
A friend of Ms. McDougal’s recalled attending the Miss Universe pageant at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles as a guest of Mr. Trump in 2006. Mr. Trump’s limousine picked up Ms. McDougal and her at Ms. McDougal’s Beverly Hills home, and the two women sat in the front row with Mr. Trump and music producers Quincy Jonesand David Foster. Mr. Trump escorted them home, the friend said.
That anecdote, at least, is borne out by photographic evidence, conveniently posted on McDougal’s Twitter page. In September 2015, McDougal tweeted out four photographs: two showing her with Trump, one of her with David Foster, and one with an unidentified woman—as a “#tbt in honor of #republicandebate.”
By the photos, it appears McDougal and Trump were photographed together on at least two occasions, in at least two different states—the first at the Miss Universe pageant in Los Angeles, and the second at an unidentified event in Las Vegas.
One pair of photographs is clearly from the Miss Universe pageant that McDougal’s friend discussed with the Journal. In the Miss Universe pictures, Trump is wearing a silver tie and McDougal is wearing a black lace-up dress, the same dress she’s wearing in the photograph with the composer David Foster. An official photograph of the front row shows both Trump and Foster wearing the same clothes they’re wearing in the photographs with McDougal. And both photos have a timestamp marked “23”; the 2006 Miss Universe pageant took place on July 23 that year.
The second pair of photographs suggests that McDougal, clad in a blue halter dress, spent time with Trump in Las Vegas. In one picture, McDougal poses with a friend in front of what is clearly the Las Vegas strip. In another, she poses close to Trump, who is wearing a pink tie this time. We have reached out to the friend for comment but have not heard back at this time.
The photographs are the only election-related post on McDougal’s social media pages, which are mostly populated with selfies, inspirational quotes and memes about chocolate.