March 23, 2018 / 3:41 AM / a month ago

Ex-Playboy model tells CNN she 'was in love' with Trump

(In this March 22 story, corrects paragraph 16 to say McDougal said she broke up with Trump in April 2007 not 2017.)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims to have had a 10-month affair with U.S. President Donald Trump starting in 2006, told CNN’S Anderson Cooper 360 in an interview broadcast on Thursday night that she was in love with Trump.

Asked if Trump ever said he loved her, McDougal said, “All the time. He always told me he loved me.”

When asked if she thought this would lead to a marriage, McDougal said, “Maybe.”

The White House has said that Trump denies having an affair with McDougal.

It was her first interview since suing American Media Inc, which owns The National Enquirer, earlier this week to be released from an agreement giving it exclusive rights to her story about the alleged affair.

New Yorker magazine reported in February that Trump had an affair with McDougal at the same time he was in a relationship with a porn star and the National Enquirer tabloid paid the model $150,000 to prevent her story being made public.

McDougal told CNN she was speaking publicly because, “I want to share my story because everybody else is talking about it.”

McDougal said she and Trump had sex dozens of times without using protection after the relationship began in Los Angeles in June 2006, not long after his wife Melania gave birth to their son Barron.

She said she met Trump at the Playboy Mansion during filming of “Celebrity Apprentice,” a TV series in which he starred. “I was attracted to him. He’s a nice looking man. I liked his charisma,” she said.

McDougal said their first sexual encounter was at his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel and that afterwards he offered her money.

“After we had been intimate, he tried to pay me, and I actually didn’t know how to take that,” McDougal said. “I looked at him and I said,’That’s not me. I’m not that kind of girl.’”

McDougal said she met Melania at the Playboy Mansion at a party for the airing of “Celebrity Apprentice.” CNN showed a picture of McDougal with Trump, Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, and other Playboy models.

She said she met Trump at his golf courses in California and New Jersey and went with him to his family apartment at Trump Tower in New York City, going through a back entrance.

McDougal said they also spent time at a resort at Lake Tahoe in California, where adult film actress Stormy Daniels has said she met Trump. Daniels claims that she had an affair with Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued the president on March 6, stating that Trump never signed an agreement for her to keep quiet about an “intimate” relationship between them. Daniels received $130,000 under that agreement.

McDougal said she broke up with Trump in April 2007.

Asked what she would say to Melania, McDougal told CNN, “I’m sorry. I wouldn’t want it done to me.”

McDougal filed suit in California on Tuesday seeking release from the agreement requiring her to stay silent.

In the lawsuit, she said, “I just want the opportunity to set the record straight and move on with my life, free from this company, its executives, and its lawyers.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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