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Bezos vs. National Enquirer: A Trump Connection and the ‘Extortion’ Emails

Bezos vs. National Enquirer: A Trump Connection and the ‘Extortion’ Emails

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a blog post Thursday that he is the target of “extortion and blackmail” by the publisher of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc. (AMI) which he says threatened to publish lurid text messages and pictures sent between he and his mistress.

The news, which broke Thursday, sent Amazon stock tumbling more than 2 percent through afternoon trading on Friday.

In his post on Medium called, “No thank you, Mr. Pecker,” Bezos says National Enquirer publisher David Pecker made him an offer he thought Bezos couldn’t refuse, emboldening him to put it all in writing for the world to see (emails in full down below).

“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote.

What Bezos’s post didn’t mention is the simmering feud between himself and President Donald Trump, a long-time associate and friend of Pecker. Trump blasts Bezos just about every chance he gets, much of it stemming from the reporting on Trump of The Washington Post, much of the coverage deemed “negative” or “fake news” by the president.

Why is that important?

Bezos says the reason the National Enquirer is doing this is politically motivated through Trump’s relationship with Pecker, and it’s a favor to Trump.

Trump’s distaste for Bezos is well-known. In a Vanity Fair article last year, Trump reportedly was asking around about how he could get at Bezos.

Per Vanity Fair:

Now, according to four sources close to the White House, Trump is discussing ways to escalate his Twitter attacks on Amazon to further damage the company. “He’s off the hook on this. It’s war,” one source told me. “He gets obsessed with something, and now he’s obsessed with Bezos,” said another source. “Trump is like, how can I fuck with him?”

Per Bloomberg:

The usually media-shy executive (Bezos) also published explicit email exchanges and descriptions of the photos, saying he would rather be embarrassed than extorted.

He also pointed to reports that the Enquirer’s publisher — American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker — has worked on behalf of the president. Pecker, Bezos said in his post, “recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called ‘catch and kill’ process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign.”

Trump in turn has frequently criticized Bezos and his newspaper, the Washington Post, for everything from taxes and shipping fees to printing “fake news.” On Twitter last month, Trump called the tech executive “Jeff Bozo.”

“It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,” Bezos said in his post. “President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets.”

Per Business Insider:

Bezos never explicitly connected the dots himself, but presented the facts in a way that a reader would be hard pressed to miss them.

Bezos’ blog post described efforts by Enquirer publisher AMI to get him to clear the tabloid’s exposé of having any political agenda or origin.

Bezos doesn’t flat-out say that the Enquirer’s piece was politically motivated. He’s saying he would be lying if he said he believed it wasn’t politically motivated. He’s essentially saying that he either knows or has reason to suspect that the Enquirer’s story about his affair was, in fact, politically motivated.

Business Insider went on to say that Bezos went even further, suggesting AMI might have published the story as a favor to, or at the direction of, Trump or the Saudi Arabian government.

An Amazon security consultant, Gavin de Becker, said the photos and text messages likely were given to the National Enquirer by a “government entity,” and were not hacked from his phone.

Per Fox News:

“Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked, he thinks it’s possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages,” he said.

The National Enquirer, published by American Media Inc. (AMI), put out a story last month that included lurid texts between Bezos and his reported girlfriend, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez. Since then, private investigators for the billionaire have been looking into how the Enquirer got the texts. That set off, according to Bezos, a threat to back off or risk having the personal photos exposed.

For its part, AMI has maintained its innocence, releasing a statement Friday saying it believes it acted lawfully in reporting the Bezos affair, adding that it will investigate the claims of extortion and blackmail levied against it.

“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos,” the company said in a statement. “Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him. Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”

The emails from National Enquirer parent company AMI are listed below in full.

Regarding the Pictures

From: Howard, Dylan [dhoward@amilink.com] (Chief Content Officer, AMI)

Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 3:33 PM

To: Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker)

Subject:. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos

CONFIDENTIAL & NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION

Marty:

I am leaving the office for the night. I will be available on my cell — 917 XXX-XXXX.

However, in the interests of expediating this situation, and with The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering.

In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick'” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:

  • Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.
  • Ms. Sanchez response — a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.
  • A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.
  • A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.
  • A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.
  • A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.
  • A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.
  • Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.
  • Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.

It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.

Dylan.

Laying Out the Terms

From: Fine, Jon [jfine@amilink.com] (Deputy General Counsel, AMI)

Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:57 PM

To: Martin Singer (Mr de Becker’s attorney)

Subject: Re: EXTERNAL* RE: Bezos et al / American Media et al

Marty –

Here are our proposed terms:

  1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.
  2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.
  3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).
  4. AM affirms that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct.
  5. The agreement is completely confidential.
  6. In the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos Parties, AM is released from its obligations under the agreement, and may publish the Unpublished Materials.
  7. Any other disputes arising out of this agreement shall first be submitted to JAMS mediation in California

Thank you,

Jon

Deputy General Counsel, Media

American Media, LLC

Jon P. Fine

Deputy General Counsel, Media

O: (212) 743-6513 C: (347) 920-6541

jfine@amilink.com

February 5, 2019

Via email:

mdsinger@lavelysinger.com

Martin D. Singer

Laveley & Singer

Re: Jeff Bezos / American Media, LLC, et al.

From: Fine, Jon [jfine@amilink.com] (Deputy General Counsel, AMI)

Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:57 PM

To: Martin Singer (Mr de Becker’s attorney)

Subject: Re: EXTERNAL* RE: Bezos et al / American Media et al

Marty –

Here are our proposed terms:

  1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.
  2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.
  3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).
  4. AM affirms that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct.
  5. The agreement is completely confidential.
  6. In the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos Parties, AM is released from its obligations under the agreement, and may publish the Unpublished Materials.
  7. Any other disputes arising out of this agreement shall first be submitted to JAMS mediation in California

Thank you,

Jon

Deputy General Counsel, Media

American Media, LLC

Jon P. Fine

Deputy General Counsel, Media

O: (212) 743-6513 C: (347) 920-6541

jfine@amilink.com

February 5, 2019

Via email:

mdsinger@lavelysinger.com

Martin D. Singer

Laveley & Singer

Re: Jeff Bezos / American Media, LLC, et al.