Sex, plots and blackmail: the toxic politics behind Bezos claims

Fredrick Soto
February 9, 2019

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has said the National Enquirer threatened to publish revealing photographs of him unless his private investigators backed off the USA tabloid.

The Enquirer published a story last month that included lurid texts between Bezos and former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

As for Bezos, Jon Fine threatened that AMI would go public with the photos unless Bezos and Gavin de Becker followed a number of different terms, including stating publicly that they "have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces" (which the Amazon CEO says is a falsehood).

American Media said in a statement Friday that it believes it acted lawfully in reporting the story of Bezos and his extramarital affair, but that it will investigate claims by the CEO of extortion and blackmail. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.

Bezos' revelation steps up a war of words with a confidant of U.S. President Donald Trump, who's been critical of Amazon and its founder.

This latest standoff began last month when Mr Bezos unexpectedly announced a divorce from his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, vowing to "continue our shared lives as friends".

"When I see allegations like that, the first question I have is, did they reach out to the DOJ, did they ask for an investigation from any USA government entity before they made their public claims", Eddington added.

"It's unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy", Bezos wrote. AMI agreed not to commit crimes as part of that deal to avoid prosecution over hush-money payments to women who claimed relationships with President Donald Trump.

In his Medium post, Bezos wrote: "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've made a decision to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten". AMI helped Trump lawyer Michael Cohen suppress the stories of two of Trump's affairs during the 2016 presidential election campaign by either purchasing one, in one case, or, in the other, helping to arrange a deal for Cohen to purchase them, according to the government's criminal complaint against Cohen to which he pleaded guilty.

On Thursday, Mr Bezos dropped bombshell allegations against the National Enquirer - accusing it of trying to blackmail him with nude selfies.

Bezos published the email exchange with AMI, concluding: "These communications cement AMI's long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and objective of true journalism".

A spokesman for the SDNY attorney's office declined to comment on the matter.

Bezos, in his post, also raised what he called AMI's links to Saudi Arabia.

In a Medium post published on Thursday, Bezos disclosed that AMI had tried to blackmail him.

He said the Enquirer demanded that he stop investigating how the publication recently obtained private messages he and his girlfriend had exchanged.

White House representatives did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment about Bezos' post. The headline in the Bezos-owned Washington Post says "Bezos makes extortion allegation".

A judge confirmed in a court filing on Thursday that federal prosecutors in NY were still investigating campaign finance crimes committed when Cohen paid two women to stay silent about alleged affairs with Trump before he became president.

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