A US tabloid allegedly paid $150,000 to a former Playboy playmate for exclusive rights to her story about having an affair with Donald Trump but never published it, it has been claimed.
Karen McDougal, Playboy's 1998 playmate of the year, claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006 while he was married to his current wife, Melania. The claim has been strongly denied by Mr Trump, with his spokesman describing it as "totally untrue".
The Wall Street Journal claims that the National Enquirer bought the rights for the story. American Media Inc, which owns the National Enquirer, confirmed that the payment had been made but said it was for a column.
It said that it was paying Ms McDougal for two years' worth of fitness columns and magazine columns as well as "exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then married man.
"AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr Trump," the magazine's owner said in a statement.
The National Enquirer has endorsed Trump's presidential bid and the Republican candidate is friends with David Pecker, the chairman of American Media.
Pecker told the Wall Street Journal that his friendship with Trump is not a secret and he greatly admires him. However he said that the Enquirer had "set the agenda" on rump's affair with Marla Maples when he was married to his first wife. "That in itself speaks volumes about our commitment to investigative reporting," he said.
The Wall Street Journal said that a contract gave American Media exclusive rights to Ms McDougal's story. The company said it also would give her monthly columns to write and would put her on magazine covers.
It comes after the Washington Post published a videotape of Trump in which he spoke about groping women. Several women have subsequently said publicly that he had made unwanted sexual advances. Trump has denied their claims and apologised for the tape, describing it as "locker room banter".