Published July 20, 2018 / Updated August 7, 2020
Donald Trump’s Love Life Is Important
Take a deep breath and let’s get this over with
No one wants to think about President Trump’s sex life, least of all me, but the unfortunate reality is that the serial-adulterer-in-chief’s adventures are legally important when it comes to campaign finance law. We have to talk about them because the erosion of campaign finance regulations is toxic to our democracy.
Still, I’m not completely heartless. This article will discuss the occasions in which Donald Trump and Playboy model Karen McDougal played quidditch together. That’s my euphemism and I’m sticking to it.
The New York Times reported that Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, secretly taped conversations with Trump discussing payments to Karen McDougal to buy her silence. It establishes Trump’s knowledge of these payments and places an upper bound for them in the timeline of the 2016 election.
Here’s the sequence of events as we understand it right now:
- September 2005: The Access Hollywood tape is recorded in the NBC Studios parking lot
- 2006: McDougal and Trump begin a year long series of quidditch games
- August 2016: the National Enquirer (parent company American Media Inc) pays $150,000 to Ms McDougal for exclusive right to her quidditch stories.
- September 2016: Michael Cohen tapes a conversation with Donald Trump in which Trump seems to learn about AMI’s purchase of the McDougal-quidditch story. Trump and Cohen discuss buying the story from AMI but never do so.
- October 7, 2016: Access Hollywood tape leaked to the Washington Post
- November 4, 2016: The Wall Street Journal reports on the August 2016 deal with McDougal. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks states “We have no knowledge of any of this.”
- November 8, 2016: Election day
The critical gap here is the time between the Cohen recording in September 2016 and November 4, 2016, when the Journal breaks the news of Trump’s quidditch games. Within that gap a tabloid newspaper has exclusive rights to this bombshell story about Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump and Playboy model Karen McDougal’s secret quidditch matches and yet Trump does not buy the story.
And the key question is why not.
The Access Hollywood tape threatened to end Donald Trump’s presidential bid. The fact that it didn’t flies in the face of all conventional political wisdom. Falling, as the tape’s release did, between the Cohen conversation and the Journal’s reporting of the quidditch story, the Access Hollywood tape shows that the Trump campaign was both vulnerable to and frightened by the possibility of a backlash against Trump’s broom-riding habits.
And yet they still didn’t buy the story. Why not?
One possible explanation stands out: AMI had already told the Trump campaign that it had no plans to run the story. If that communication can be substantiated, it makes the $150,000 spent to acquire McDougal’s quidditch story an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign that should have been reported under campaign finance law. If Cohen or Trump knew that and it wasn’t reported, they’re implicated as well.
That’s the thing about quidditch; the game isn’t over until you find the snitch.
Tell Congress What You Think
Campaign finance laws keep our government honest and this is a perfect example of how they’re supposed to work, but they’re under attack. If protecting and expanding campaign finance reform laws matters to you, you can write to your Representatives and Senators by sending the word Resist to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text RESIST to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to make a difference.