National Enquirer owner to 'thoroughly investigate’ allegations made by Jeff Bezos

Erika Holt
February 9, 2019

In recent interviews, including with The Daily Beast and The Washington Post, Mr de Becker has said he was investigating whether Ms Sanchez's brother, who has said he supports Mr Trump, may have been behind the leak for political reasons.

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Howard and Fine haven't responded to email requests for comment. After all, AMI has helped Trump in the past.

Bezos, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of Trump on Twitter.

In a blockbuster blog post titled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker", Bezos on Thursday evening accused Pecker of an "extortion and blackmail" attempt.

'I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out'.

Hours after the Amazon founder and his wife divorced last month, the "National Enquirer" released the details - including private messages, of an affair with a former TV host, Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos' personal investigators, led by his longtime security consultant, Gavin de Becker, concluded that Bezos' phone wasn't hacked.

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 US$150,000 (RM612,543) hush-money payment given to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who claims she had an affair with President Donald Trump. According to the law, this includes exposing a secret or publicizing an asserted fact "whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule;" or "any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the actor but which is calculated to harm another person materially with respect to his or her health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships".

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In Mr Bezos' post on Thursday, he also published several e-mails between Mr de Becker's lawyer, Mr Martin Singer, and AMI's lawyer, Mr Jon Fine, and chief content officer, Mr Dylan Howard. Bezos said that Pecker was "apoplectic" about his further investigation into the Saudi Arabia "angle". AMI later approached Bezos' representatives with an offer.

"Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail", Bezos said, "I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten".

Bezos, 55, asserted to AMI through his lawyers that the Enquirer has no right to publish the revealing photos, arguing that he and Sanchez hold the copyright to their own images, and that the photos "don't add anything newsworthy".

The first whiff of controversy came January 9 when Bezos posted a statement on Twitter, signed by him and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announcing plans to divorce. The story carries the bylines of Mr. Howard and two reporters. Stay tuned for updates. He even posted the emails he received from the company to prove it. Trump has a long history of a mutually beneficial relationship with AMI and Pecker. In the next sentence, Bezos describes the non-prosecution agreement struck in September between AMI and the Justice Department. Pecker ensured that his publication only wrote favorable stories about Trump and the company also admitted to have paid $150,000 to a woman, who allegedly had an affair with Trump, as hush money so as not to impact the election.

AMI was "unnerved" when Bezos' investigation into the story touched on the publishing company's Saudi connections, he claimed.

The Amazon boss had hired a private investigator to look into whether AMI's revelation of his affair was "politically motivated".

American Media is backed by Anthony Melchiorre and his hedge fund, Chatham Asset Management. Turns out, they were sexting each other.

He said the company had wanted him to stop investigating how they had obtained his private messages.

Forbes reports the couple's main residence was in Washington State, where divorcees much divide "community property" and all marital income equally.

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