Karen McDougal to Melania Trump: I'm really sorry

One way to show your regret, it occurs to me, would be to not dredge this up and force Mrs. Trump to have to stomach details about the affair as they ripple through national media.

Kirsten Powers asked a fair question last night. What was the point of this interview? Stormy Daniels’s motive in chatting about Trump is financial; she’s already busily monetizing her new fame. McDougal doesn’t seem to have an angle, though.

So why talk? Powers:

I don’t understand what Ms. McDougal is trying to accomplish. Even the “catch and kill” thing, she sat there and said to you she was happy that [the Enquirer] didn’t run those stories. She said she didn’t want the story to come out. She says she doesn’t want to hurt Melania or the family and yet she sits here and has this hour-long conversation talking about this. So, I’m just at a total loss to understand, again, what is the endgame here. What is she trying to do?

McDougal herself pointed out during the interview that she hasn’t offered any salacious details about Trump. If she were looking to cash in, that’s what she’d be talking about. Or, maybe, dropping hints like this:

That’s Stormy Daniels’s lawyer, suggesting that hard evidence of the president’s relationship with his client exists. The McDougal mystery deepens when you see what she has to say about Mrs. Trump. The remorse seems genuine:

She said that guilt was what ultimately led her to end the alleged affair.

“I was just feeling so guilty, she said. “It was just digging inside me.”

McDougal said she recalled a time when Trump showed her around his New York apartment in Trump Tower, pointing to Melania’s room. She said it made her feel “very guilty.”

“I just couldn’t wait to get out of the apartment,” she said.

Cooper brought her attention to a photo featuring McDougal, Melania and others, and she said she met Melania then at a release party for “The Apprentice” and said that she felt guilty and tried to keep her distance in a group photo.

Now here she is, 10 years after the fact, reliving the experience on national television no doubt to the First Lady’s distress. Why?

I have a theory. The whole interview’s interesting but watch a few minutes starting here:

A big difference between Daniels and McDougal is that Daniels has never suggested she had an emotional relationship with Trump. She enjoyed their conversation, she was intrigued by the possibility of an “Apprentice” role, but there was nothing like a love connection. There was in McDougal’s case, or so she claims. They spent a lot of time together, they spoke affectionately, she makes no bones about the fact that she was in love with him and, as best she could tell, that the feeling was mutual. Although he was careful not to leave a paper trail of their time together, she says in the clip, he never asked her not to talk about their relationship and even found it cute when she told him that she’d told her sister they were together. She says at one point that she thought the relationship might have gone on long-term.

Imagine being McDougal watching Stormygate play out, knowing that her name is out there as another former Trump mistress under an NDA, and digesting the fact that the public will inevitably view her as a plaything for Trump and/or as a cynical operator trying to cash in on her willingness to sleep with a famous man. Her lawyer told MSNBC this morning that she did the interview to “defend herself.” I think that’s right — specifically, she’s defending herself from perceptions that she was easy and took a roll in the sheets with a rich celebrity just to get ahead. She loved him, she insists. (She voted for him too.) She’s not Stormy.

And because she loved him, maybe there’s a payback motive. McDougal’s affair with Trump had already begun when he met Daniels at the Lake Tahoe golf event in July 2006. McDougal actually joined him at that event but, she told Anderson Cooper last night, she didn’t realize that he was sneaking around and seeing other women at moments when they weren’t together. He was cheating on the woman he was cheating with. Naturally that would lead McDougal to question in hindsight how sincere his feelings really were. She may have had her heart broken by her louche playboy ex-boyfriend and can’t bear the thought of being seen forever as some side piece whom he dallied with and then threw away. She was the one who ended it, she makes clear, and she did so even though the relationship was meaningful — to her, at least. I think that’s why she’s talking, so that she’s not diminished as “just another Trump mistress.”

Here’s the full interview. Cooper’s interview with Daniels will air a little more than 48 hours from now on “60 Minutes.”