Trump’s Legal Problems With Women Just Got Much Worse

It’s a distraction from Russia, but probably not the kind that the president’s lawyers are welcoming.

While President Donald Trump makes moves to bolster his legal team amid reports that the special counsel investigation is moving closer to his finances and family members, his lawyers are likely to find themselves at least somewhat distracted by a wholly different subject, but one that could prove equally threatening: Trump’s alleged conduct with women.

And on Tuesday, three separate news reports made clear that these legal troubles are only going to get much worse.

The first involves former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who detailed her alleged affair with Trump more than a decade ago in an eight-page, handwritten document provided to the New Yorker last month. McDougal and Trump reportedly met in 2006, and, allegedly, McDougal was with Trump at a golf tournament that year—the same one at which Trump reportedly met the adult film star Stormy Daniels. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that McDougal is now suing for her right to speak about the alleged affair. The lawsuit names American Media Inc., the parent company of the Trump-friendly tabloid the National Enquirer, to release her from a 2016 legal arrangement that prevented her from discussing the tryst. (AMI reportedly used a “catch and kill” strategy to bury the alleged affair for $150,000.)

McDougal’s lawsuit follows a similar legal fight from Daniels, whose highly anticipated interview on 60 Minutes about her supposed affair with the president will air this weekend. Although Daniels’ had previously signed a $130,000 non-disclosure agreement, her lawyers are arguing that the legal document is invalid because Trump never officially signed it.

Adding to the news about McDougal, the Wall Street Journal and NBC News both reported Tuesday that in 2011, Daniels passed a lie detector test in which she discussed her alleged affair with Trump. Of course, polygraph tests have been found to be flawed. But the image of Daniels undergoing the test, along with the sworn legal declaration of the incident, are raising new questions:

Finally, the third report involves Summer Zervos, who in January 2017 filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump for having “maliciously” disparaged her by publicly denying her account that he had groped her in 2007. On Tuesday, a New York judge dismissed Trump’s attempt to squash the lawsuit. In her ruling, Justice Jennifer Schecter wrote that “no one is above the law,” even a sitting president. She said that the president’s legal team now has ten days to respond to the decision.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.