In an unusual personal blog post titled "No thank you, Mr. Pecker", published on Medium, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accused the owner of the tabloid the National Enquirer, David Pecker, and its parent company AMI, of "extortion and blackmail". If he declined, AMI threatened to publish compromising photos of Bezos and Sanchez. (That's the fig-leaf justification given by the Enquirer's lawyer.) But because the Enquirer's lawyer offered not to publish the photos in exchange for Bezos doing something valuable for them - namely, a statement from Bezos and his companies "that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces" - we may have something actionable here. He added, "It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly".
Mr Bezos, who owns more than $US120 billion in Amazon stock, continued, "If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" Last April, Farrow published a story in the New Yorker about the Enquirer's "catch and kill" practice - in which stories are buried by paying off sources - that benefited Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In another email dated February 6, Fine asked Bezos and his attorney to publicly refute the Post's reporting and announce "that they have no knowledge of basis for suggesting that American Media Inc.'s coverage was politically motivated of influencer by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility". The executive also said the Post's coverage of Mr Jamal Khashoggi's murder - a columnist for the newspaper who was killed in Istanbul a year ago - "is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles".
De Becker and his team suspect Michael Sanchez, a talent manager who touts his support of Trump and is an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page, may have provided the information to the Enquirer, the person said. Bezos made the accusations in a Medium post.
Representatives for Chatham, Cooperman, AMI and the White House didn't immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
Last month, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, announced that they were divorcing.
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AMI, the company that owns the National Enquirer is now feeling the heat from Justice Department investigations into potential corruption related to AMI CEO David Pecker's close ties with Donald Trump and the Saudi government.
Gavin de Becker, whom the Washington Post described as "Bezos' longtime private security consultant", has been conducting an investigation to determine the source of the leaks to the Enquirer.
"It's unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy", he wrote.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon, has written a public blog post exposing a blackmail attempt from the owners of the National Enquirer. "It's a shocking and frightening thing Mr. Bezos has revealed". President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.
"The condition of that agreement is always - you don't commit any other crimes or the deal is off", he noted. Now that the world knows what the photos show and how they were brought to Bezos's attention, the Enquirer's decision to publish them would look that much sleazier.