Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Bezos Says National Enquirer Tried to Blackmail Him With Intimate Photos

Bezos Says National Enquirer Tried to Blackmail Him With Intimate Photos

Following news of the Amazon CEO's relationship with Lauren Sanchez, and rumors of infidelity, Bezos is speaking out about allegedly being extorted and blackmailed by the National Enquirer and its owner American Media Inc.

The story spilled into public on January 9 when Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, revealed they would be divorcing after 25 years of marriage - roughly two days after the Enquirer had informed him it would be publishing a story about his relationship with Sanchez.

David J. Pecker, the publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, has reached an immunity deal with federal prosecutors in order to serve as a key witness in their investigation into whether Donald Trump made illegal payments to two women who claim they had affairs with him.

And in his Medium post, Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and David Pecker's previous cooperation with Trump - including payments made to suppress negative stories, now under investigation by federal prosecutors.

Bezos, the richest man in the world, accused the outlet's published David Pecker of using the company and the tabloid for political reasons, and said "federal investigators and legitimate media" had proved so.

AMI did not immediately return a request for comment.

"If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion", he wrote, "how many people can?"

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The alleged extortion raises questions among some legal observers about whether AMI and its chief executive David Pecker have violated a cooperation agreement AMI made a year ago with federal prosecutors in connection with a $150,000 hush-money payment given to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos and the Post's coverage of the White House.

According to the New York Times, Trump and Pecker dined together to celebrate him winning the presidency.

It's not clear how the Enquirer acquired the texts between Bezos and Sanchez. It admitted to "catch-and-kill" practices as part of a deal with federal prosecutors, who agreed to not pursue charges against the company.

"In the AMI letters I'm making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we 'have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.'"Jeff Bezos Doesn't Negotiate With Terrorists " Well, that got my attention". AMI later approached Mr. Bezos's representatives with an offer. President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.

But as Bezos began to investigate the leak, the tabloid's parent disputed any suggestion that its story was politically motivated. He also published correspondence between AMI and lawyers for his investigator, Gavin de Becker. "It's ripped right out of the law books".

"It shows how complicated and risky it is to make an agreement with National Enquirer", Levenson said. That's one of the dangers to democracy of what they were engaged in when they were catching and killing information they could have used against Candidate Trump and now President Trump.

It does not appear that AMI demanded any money from Bezos - only that he call off his investigation and issue a statement saying the coverage wasn't political.

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