US President Donald Trump engaged in elaborate efforts to cover his tracks while engaging in multiple extramarital affairs, according to the latest blockbuster report in the New Yorker.
The story, by journalist Ronan Farrow, relies heavily on the firsthand account of Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, who recounts her consensual affair with the current President before he was elected.
The White House called the report "fake news," its default response to unflattering stories.
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Farrow obtained an eight-page, handwritten note from Ms McDougal's friend detailing their relationship. Ms McDougal confirmed that it is her handwriting in the letter.
The media industry has been abuzz with speculation about the target of Mr Farrow's latest investigation ever since word broke on the Drudge Report this month that he was readying another deep dive into sexual misconduct among the powerful.
Mr Farrow, along with New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, helped uncover Harvey Weinstein's alleged decades of harassment and sexual abuse.
The story may attract attention not for the revelation that President Mr Trump was involved in an affair before he was elected to the office, but for its presentation of details of how he kept such relationships quiet and how he attempted to buy the silence of the women with whom he interacted.
Central to these efforts were the close relationship that Mr Trump maintained with American Media, Inc (AMI), the publisher of the National Enquirer.
The gossip publication paid Ms McDougal US$150,000 for the exclusive rights to the story of her affair with Mr Trump, but killed the piece.
It also contracted her to write a fitness column. And the piece claims the company has approached Ms McDougal about extending her agreement after news broke that Stormy Daniels had been paid not to discuss her own alleged affair with the president.
"It took my rights away," Ms McDougal told Mr Farrow. "At this point I feel I can't talk about anything without getting into trouble, because I don't know what I'm allowed to talk about. I'm afraid to even mention his name."
During the affair, Mr Trump also took pains to avoid leaving a paper trail. When he would travel with Ms McDougal, he would have her book and pay for her own flights before reimbursing her.
Mr Trump was obsessed with his accomplishments, sending Ms McDougal favourable articles about his businesses and showering her with merchandise from his golf courses, according to Farrow's article.
The nine-month affair with Ms McDougal ended in April, 2007. Mr Trump was married to his current wife, Melania, during the time.
Mr Trump's alleged infidelities have been public knowledge for years and his tight relationship with AMI and its chief David Pecker have also been the subject of articles, but Mr Farrow's story implies that the Enquirer functioned as a veritable protection racket for the president.
Jerry George, a former AMI senior editor, told the New Yorker that the company never published anything about Mr Trump without his approval.
Mr Pecker also maintained a close relationship with Harvey Weinstein, and offered to buy rights to the story of one of his accusers as a possible means of silencing her, according to a report in the New York Times.