Opinion

Trump’s Own Arrogance May Have Saved Him From Committing a Crime in Alleged Karen McDougal Affair

Amazing (and un-karmic) as it may seem, Donald Trump’s arrogance may have been the one thing that actually stopped him from violating state law with Karen McDougal, assuming we believe her story. On air tonight with Anderson Cooper, the former playmate recounted the details of a purported 10-month affair between her and Donald Trump. It’s the very start of that affair – her “first date,” with Trump – that could have spelled legal trouble for the Donald.

According to McDougal, she met Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she expected to attend dinner at the hotel restaurant. Instead, (and to McDougal’s great surprise), Trump’s bodyguard allegedly escorted McDougal around the back and directly to a private bungalow. There was dinner, and there was sex. If you’re feeling like this story seems eerily familiar, it’s because McDougal’s account – from the bodyguard, to the surprise bungalow, to the sort of weirdly immediate sex – it’s because it’s almost identical to Summer Zervosaccount of the circumstances surrounding her alleged sexual assault by Donald Trump.

Unlike Zervos’ alleged sexual assault, McDougal’s date with Trump was, according to her, completely consensual; however, there was one pretty disturbing detail. After the sex, Trump allegedly tried to pay her. That’s right. According to Karen McDougal, Trump assumed that she’d be expecting payment; he offered up the cash – which she promptly refused.   McDougal then cried all the way home, upset that the man she described as “brilliant,” had incorrectly thought she was, “that kind of girl.” That might sound like solicitation of prostitution?

Let’s take a quick look at the California prostitution statute:

(1)…An individual agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation by another person to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution.

(2) An individual who solicits, or who agrees to engage in, or who engages in, any act of prostitution with another person who is 18 years of age or older in exchange for the individual providing compensation, money, or anything of value to the other person.  An individual agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation by another person who is 18 years of age or older to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution.

The statute requires that an agreement form whereby individuals exchange sex for money. And even solicitation of such an exchange would be prohibited. A person simply asking another to make a sex-for-money exchange would be guilty. But here’s where, if McDougal’s account is to be believed, Trump’s own arrogance saved him from breaking the law. Trump didn’t ask. He didn’t clarify the terms of any quid pro quo. He didn’t confirm McDougal’s price before he engaged in [shudder] the first of many rounds of unprotected sex. Instead, Trump allegedly simply assumed Karen McDougal would engaged in prostitution, and assumed he’d accurately predicted her fee.

If Karen McDougal’s account is accurate, then Donald Trump really lucked out.  Had she taken the money, a pretty strong case could be made that an agreement between the two had actually formed.  But as the facts have been alleged, Trump’s offering payment occurred after the sex — or in contract terms, after “performance,” [sorry for the ick factor there]. That would mean legally, it could not constitute a contractual offer, and therefore would likely not constitute the basis for criminal solicitation of prostitution.

There was no asking, so there was no solicitation. There was no agreement, so there was no prostitution. Where does that leave us? Right back where we were before Karen McDougal ever met Anderson Cooper: with a philandering president who, when apparently canoodles with porn stars and playmates.

 

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos

  1. Mediaite
  2. The Mary Sue
  3. RunwayRiot
  4. Law & Crime
  5. AmboTV