Round and round she goes, where she’ll stop nobody knows.
The Showdown: ? Bezos vs A.M.I. ?
I’d rather not be talking about dick pics, but this is such a weird story that reaches back into the Trump administration in unexpected ways. So I guess I’ll include. Happy Friday…
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, accused National Enquirer’s publisher of “extortion and blackmail” for threatening to release embarrassing photos of him. In a blog post, Bezos laid out a theory that covers international politics, White House politics, nude photos, and text messages. Trump is longtime friends with American Media’s chief executive, David Pecker. Trump has repeatedly tweeted about the “Amazon Washington Post,” because of Bezos’ ownership of the paper and what Trump claims is unfair coverage.
Bezos launched an investigation to determine how the Enquirer obtained his personal text messages for the initial article it published about the affair.
Gavin de Becker, the Amazon chief’s personal security consultant, confirmed that his probe was looking at Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos mistress Lauren Sanchez, who is also a personal and business associate of Roger Stone, Carter Page, and Scottie Nell Hughes. “Michael Sanchez has been among the people we’ve been speaking with and looking at,” De Becker said, but added that “strong leads point to political motives.” (Daily Beast / Washington Post)
Sanchez offered several of theories to explain how the texts between Bezos and his sister made it to the Enquirer. He suggested that foreign governments were spying on Bezos, or that the “deep state” – specifically the National Security Agency – may have been responsible for obtaining text messages from Bezos’ phone. (Washington Post / Daily Beast)
American Media demanded that Bezos call off his investigators, instructing Bezos to state publicly that he had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that [American Media’s] coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” The tabloid threatened to keep his photos on hand and publish them in the future “if we ever deviate from [the] lie.”
Bezos suggested that the Washington Post’s reporting about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi may have made him a target of Pecker, saying “It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.” The CIA concluded that the murder was likely ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (The Guardian)
A.M.I. engaged in talks with Saudi financiers to help shore up its debt-laden business last year. (Wall Street Journal)
American Media entered into a deal with federal prosecutors last year where Pecker and Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard cooperate with authorities, and acknowledge that the Enquirer worked with the Trump campaign to kill stories “about the presidential candidate’s relationships with women”: the former Playboy model Karen McDougal and the porn star Stormy Daniels. (New York Times / Washington Post)
The agreement stipulated that A.M.I, “shall commit no crimes whatsoever” for three years, and that if it did, “A.M.I. shall thereafter be subject to prosecution for any federal criminal violation of which this office has knowledge.” (New York Times / Bloomberg)
American Media said it “believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos” and that it was acting in “good-faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.” (Wall Street Journal)
Federal prosecutors are reviewing the National Enquirer’s handling of its story about Bezos to determine if the company violated the cooperation agreement. (Bloomberg)