Thursday July 18th, 2019 9:33AM

Tabloid CEO's lawyer denies Enquirer tried to extort Bezos

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, an attorney for the head of the tabloid's parent company said Sunday.

Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney for American Media Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said on Sunday a "reliable source" well-known to Bezos and his mistress provided the story about the billionaire's extramarital affair.

Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish the explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges with his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and publicly declare that the Enquirer's coverage of him was not politically motivated. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

Bezos' investigators have suggested the Enquirer's coverage of his affair was driven by dirty politics, and the high-profile clash has pitted the world's richest man against the leader of America's best-known tabloid, who is a strong backer of President Donald Trump. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post and Amazon, and the Post's coverage of the White House.

Federal prosecutors are looking into whether the Enquirer violated a cooperation and nonprosecution agreement that recently spared the gossip sheet from charges for paying hush money to a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday. The people weren't authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

But asked during an interview with ABC's "This Week" whether he was concerned the Bezos matter could jeopardize the noncooperation agreement, Abramowitz said: "Absolutely not."

Abramowitz defended the tabloid's handling of the situation as part of a standard legal negotiation.

"I think both Bezos and AMI had interests in resolving their interests," Abramowitz said. "It's absolutely not a crime to ask somebody to simply tell the truth. Tell the truth that this was not politically motivated, and we will print no more stories."

Bezos' affair became public when the Enquirer published story on Jan. 9 about his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, who is also married. Bezos then hired a team of private investigators to find out how the tabloid got the texts and photos the two exchanged.

Bezos' personal investigators, led by his security consultant Gavin de Becker, have focused on Sanchez's brother, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Michael Sanchez is his sister's manager, a Trump supporter and an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page.

Abramowitz would not comment when asked whether Michael Sanchez was the Enquirer's source but said that "Bezos and Ms. Sanchez knew who the source was."

Michael Sanchez has declined to speak with AP on the record. In a Jan. 31 tweet, he said without evidence that de Becker "spreads fake, unhinged conservative conspiracy theories."

Investigators working for Bezos have identified who they believe provided text messages to the Enquirer, the person familiar with the matter told the AP on Sunday. Bezos' investigators concluded their probe into the text message leak and turned over the results to attorney Richard Ben-Veniste for review and possible referral to law enforcement, the person said. Ben-Veniste had served as special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.

In his blog post on Thursday, Bezos alluded to a possible relationship between Saudi Arabia and AMI, but Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's minister of state of foreign affairs, said he had "no idea" about such a relationship and doubted the kingdom played any role in urging AMI to run negative stories about Bezos. Last year, the tabloid produced a glossy magazine that included 97 pages saluting Saudi Arabia, ahead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's arrival in the U.S. on a public relations blitz to transform his country's image.

"It's like a soap opera," al-Jubeir said of Bezos' allegations during a roundtable on Friday with reporters in Washington.

Asked about AMI's recent $450 million debt restructuring, Abramowitz said "not a penny" of that money came from the Saudi kingdom. The company had sought financing from the Saudis but never received any, he said.

After Bezos on Thursday posted the exchanges with AMI in an extraordinary blog post on, several celebrities and journalists posted on social media that they too had been threatened by AMI. Ronan Farrow said he and "and at least one other prominent journalist" involved in reporting on the tabloid had "fielded similar 'stop digging or we'll ruin you' blackmail efforts from AMI" and actor Terry Crews alleged the company tried to "silence him" by "fabricating stories of me with prostitutes."

Abramowitz said he didn't know of any AMI employees blackmailing celebrities or journalists or "committing any crime at all."

In recent months, the Trump-friendly tabloid acknowledged secretly assisting Trump's White House campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then buried the story until after the 2016 election.

Trump's longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to charges that included helping to broker that transaction.

As part of a nonprosecution agreement in that case, AMI promised not to break the law. The deal requires top executives, including Pecker and the Enquirer's editor, Dylan Howard, to cooperate with federal prosecutors. A violation of the agreement could lead to criminal charges over the McDougal payments.


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller in Washington and Michael R. Sisak and Jim Mustian in New York contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2019
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Congressman Walter Jones Jr. of North Carolina dies at 76
Republican U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina, once-fervent supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later an outspoken critic of the war, dies on 76th birthday
8:55PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Dems' 2020 field now includes Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has joined the growing group of Democrats jostling to be president
8:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Tabloid CEO's lawyer denies Enquirer tried to extort Bezos
An attorney for the head of the National Enquirer's parent company denies the tabloid committed extortion or blackmail by threatening to publish Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' explicit photos
8:43PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Brandi Carlile heading into Grammys with 3 wins
The Latest: Brandi Carlile heading into Grammys with 3 wins; delivers moving acceptance speech during pre-telecast awards ceremony
7:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Mendes, Ella Mai talk Grammys fashion choices
The Latest: Shawn Mendes, Chris Stapleton and Ella Mai talk Grammys fashion choices
7:32PM ( 1 hour ago )
More snow for storm-buried Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest residents digging out from a winter storm are bracing for more snow
7:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Klobuchar dismisses reports she's a tough boss
Klobuchar dismissing reports that she is difficult to work, says she has 'high expectations' for staff
5:44PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: At Grammys, PJ Morton defends Super Bowl show
The Latest: Maroon 5's PJ Morton defends band's Super Bowl halftime show at the Grammys, where he's up for four honors on Sunday
5:35PM ( 3 hours ago )
Warren takes on Trump, says he may not be 'free' in 2020
Democrat Elizabeth Warren is taking aim at President Donald Trump, saying he "may not even be a free person" by next year's election
5:30PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
'The Favourite,' 'Roma' win big at British Academy Awards
Tragicomic royal drama "The Favourite" and Mexican family memoir "Roma" have split the honors with multiple wins each at the British Academy Film Awards _ victories that suggest a wind of change may be blowing through the movie industry
5:15PM ( 3 hours ago )
Before multiculturalism, blackface rampant in US pop culture
Blackface, other insensitivities had a part of 1980s pop culture before multiculturalism began changing racial sensibilities
4:35PM ( 4 hours ago )
El Paso bristles at Trump's claim that wall made city safe
In his State of the Union, President Donald Trump said a "powerful barrier" had cut crime rates and turned El Paso from one of the nation's most dangerous cities to one of its safest
3:51PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Jimmy Carter wins best spoken word album Grammy
The Latest: Former president Jimmy Carter wins a Grammy Award for spoken word album for his work 'Faith _ A Journey for All'
5:00PM ( 4 hours ago )
2020 hopeful Gillibrand immerses herself in early voting SC
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York immersed herself in South Carolina over the weekend, using her first trip to the state to introduce herself as a possible presidential candidate to the heavily black Democratic electorate
4:19PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Klobuchar pledges to 'lead from the heart'
Klobuchar pledges to immediately address climate change, if elected president
4:03PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Johnson triggers wreck, then wins Clash at Daytona
Jimmie Johnson triggered a wreck that wiped out nearly the entire field at Daytona and zipped to the lead to win the rain-shortened exhibition Clash at Daytona race
7:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
Brandon Maxwell's mom joins him for his NY Fashion Week bow
Brandon Maxwell's mom joins him for his New York Fashion Week bow after a tough year
5:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
Gaga wins Grammy for 'Shallow'; Hugh Jackman wins 1st Grammy
Lady Gaga's "Shallow" continues winning streak during this awards season
5:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
The Latest: Nominees walk red carpet to British film awards
Stars are arriving on the red carpet at London's Royal Albert Hall for the British Academy Film Awards
1:31PM ( 7 hours ago )
Nancy Pelosi gets rock star treatment at Clive Davis gala
The audience at Clive Davis' white-hot gala included Barbra Streisand, Joni Mitchell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but it was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who got the most requests to take a selfie
8:53AM ( 12 hours ago )
Crash victim says Prince Philip is right to give up driving
A woman who was injured in a car accident involving Prince Philip says the roads will be safer now that the 97-year-old royal has given up his driver's license
6:04AM ( 15 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Denver teachers prepare to strike over pay dispute
Denver teachers are planning to strike Monday for the first time in 25 years after failed negotiations with the school district over base pay
4:32PM ( 4 hours ago )
Harper, Machado, Kimbrel, Keuchel on market as camps open
Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel won't be around when the bat and ball bags are opened at spring training throughout Florida and Arizona this week
3:24PM ( 5 hours ago )
Hungary to give women with 4 or more kids life tax exemption
Hungary's anti-immigration prime minister says the government is greatly increasing financial aid and subsidies for families with several children
1:21PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business
UK scraps Brexit ferry deal with firm that has no ships
The British government has canceled a contract to ship goods to the country after Brexit with a company that turned out to have no boats and no experience running a ferry service
10:31AM ( 1 day ago )
Arizona wants care unit where patient was raped to stay open
The embattled operators of an Arizona long-term care facility have agreed to be regulated by the state, effectively nixing a plan to close down the unit where an incapacitated woman was raped and then later gave birth
7:56PM ( 2 days ago )
For Amazon, it's business as usual despite CEO drama
With its CEO engulfed in personal drama, Amazon is carrying on as usual
6:36PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Leader of new climate panel talks of need for 'bold action'
House Democrats are confident a special committee they have set up on climate change can lead to "bold action." But before the committee can get to work, it first needs to find office space, hire staff and await Republican members
8:11AM ( 1 day ago )
NY gov raps Amazon critics amid report company's rethinking
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is warning about what he calls "political pandering" to critics of Amazon's proposed secondary headquarters amid a report that the company is reconsidering its planned New York City headquarters.
9:09PM ( 1 day ago )
Arizona health facility rape spurs video surveillance push
Arizona is trying to catch up to 10 states that laws allowing electronic monitoring and other technology aimed at deterring abuse of vulnerable people at long-term care facilities
5:52PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Technology News
Congressman Walter Jones Jr. of North Carolina dies at 76
Republican U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. of North Carolina, once-fervent supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and later an outspoken critic of the war, dies on 76th birthday
8:55PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Dems' 2020 field now includes Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has joined the growing group of Democrats jostling to be president
8:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Ariana Grande a no-show despite winning first Grammy Award
Ariana Grande won her first Grammy Award on Sunday, but the singer didn't collect it after deciding to skip the ceremony following a public dispute with the show's producer
8:43PM ( 26 minutes ago )
The Latest: Gaga, Bradley Cooper win Grammy for 'Shallow'
The Latest: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper win Grammy Award for 'Shallow'
8:37PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Lady Gaga wins 3 Grammys, Michelle Obama makes appearance
Grammys kicked off with powerful women describing role of music
8:36PM ( 32 minutes ago )