According to New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the “catch and kill” scheme — killing a message — that led to the historic impeachment against a president began, not with Stormy Daniels.
“Under this program, Donald Trump and others made three payments to individuals who claimed to have negative information about Mr. Trump,” Bragg said at a news conference Tuesday.
The first payoff was stopping former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who Bragg dubbed “Woman No. 1,” from revealing in a TV interview what she believed was a 9-month affair with the married president. Brian Ross, ABC News’ chief correspondent at the time, and I were the reporters Trump wanted to silence in order to “catch and kill” our story.
It wasn’t until 2020 that McDougal finally broke her silence and spoke to Ross about the “Catch and Kill” operation, now at the Abrams Media Law & Crime Network.
Brian Ross: As you recall, prior to signing, you spoke to me and Rhonda Schwartz about an interview when we were working at ABC News. And then it was cancelled.
Karen McDougal: The deal was canceled because we signed a contract with AMI so I would work and never talk about it again. We’ll never talk about the relationship again.
In October 2016, just days before she was due to be interviewed by Ross on ABC about a 9-month affair that began shortly after the birth of his son Baron, McDougal called it off “due to family reasons.” It was just a few weeks before the presidential election.
Brian Ross: Karen, as you look back on this four year saga, do you wish you had done the interview with us and called it over?
Karen McDougal: Actually, yes. It was a big ordeal. I just wish I had gotten in from the start. Let it out and kind of relax afterwards because it was kind of a nightmare for a while. Literally and from A to Z it was an absolute nightmare.
Karen McDougal: Brian, it was very scary. I actually went into hiding for a while. Even though it’s hiding, I was followed by strange people knocking on my door.
We had spent months corroborating McDougal’s story by speaking to her friends and her then-attorney Keith Davidson, who provided us with McDougal’s detailed and contemporaneous diary — sex with Donald Trump was labeled “DT.” Davidson then represented Stormy Daniels in a similar trial, which was also part of the indictment.
But perhaps the most intriguing detail were photos of gifts Trump gave her that McDougal shared with us. McDougal, a religious woman, described them as “cheap religious artifacts”. Trump told her they were from a Beverly Hills home that he planned to buy for their dates.
The homeowner was a religious woman who had an altar in her bedroom. Her son Richard Cavalli later sold the house to Trump after his mother died.
“He told me it was very important to him. That it meant everything to him. That he needed the shrine,” Cavalli said in an interview with Brian Ross Investigates.
When contacted by “Brian Ross Investigates,” Cavalli said he actually recognized the artifacts and said it finally clarified a mystery for him.
Trump had insisted on keeping his mother’s altar or the real estate deal had failed. Cavalli said he now feels betrayed by Trump.
“I was absolutely shocked and appalled. I feel cheated. You meant a lot to me,” Cavalli said. “I wouldn’t have taken even those few little pieces from Mr. Trump if I had known they were going somewhere else.”
McDougal insisted she was not being taken advantage of by Trump — she believed she was in love with Trump and he was in love with her. In meetings with National Enquirer editors, she was told Trump had asked her to find out, “Does she still love me?”
After revealing the “catch and kill scheme” first reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2018 and an initial interview with CNN, McDougal did not speak further about her relationship with Trump. And unlike Stormy Daniels, McDougal’s career was faltering and she was struggling financially.
McDougal became an advocate for women’s health, sharing online pictures of her surgery to remove breast implants, which she believed made her ill. Active on social media, she posts religious and inspirational messages on Facebook, where she recently shared a trip to New York City, prompting speculation as to whether she was there to testify before the grand jury.
“I’ve been out enjoying God’s country… I hope I haven’t missed anything,” she tweeted today.
Trump has repeatedly denied the affair with McDougal, and neither McDougal nor her recent attorney have returned news from Law&Crime.
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https://lawandcrime.com/trump/in-historic-indictment-of-donald-trump-woman-1-isnt-who-you-might-suppose/ ‘Woman-1’ in Trump indictment is Karen McDougal, not Stormy