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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says National Enquirer publisher tried to extort him

Amazon's Jeff Bezos is claiming the parent company of the National Enquirer, AMI, reached out to Bezos attempting to blackmail him with compromising pictures to stop the Washington Post from running a story about the National Enquirer.

Posted: Feb 8, 2019 7:32 AM


In an explosive tell-all blog post published Thursday afternoon, Jeff Bezos accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of trying to extort him.

Bezos revealed in the post, published on Medium, what he said was the full text of emails his representatives got from executives with AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer.

Bezos, the billionaire founder and CEO of Amazon, alleged that AMI threatened to release compromising photos of him and published what he said were emails from AMI detailing what he described as "extortion and blackmail." Bezos, the world's richest person, is the single largest shareholder in Amazon, with 16% of the company's stock.

"Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn't just unusual  —  it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn't refuse. Or at least that's what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I'm glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing," Bezos wrote. "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, who titled his post "No thank you, Mr. Pecker," shared what he said was an email from AMI's chief content officer Dylan Howard, in which Howard threatened to release intimate and personal photos and text messages of Bezos and a woman the National Enquirer said he was having an affair with.

Some of Bezos' text messages were made public last month. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, are getting divorced after 25 years of marriage.

Howard and AMI deputy general counsel Jon Fine did not immediately respond to CNN Business' requests for comment. Neither did a spokesperson for the Washington Post. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment other than to confirm that Bezos wrote the post.

Rival investigations

After Bezos made his divorce plans public, the National Enquirer said it had been investigating Bezos for four months, claiming it had evidence that Bezos has been "whisking his mistress off to exotic destinations on his $65 million private jet." The Enquirer and other outlets identified the woman as Lauren Sanchez, a former anchor for Fox's local station in Los Angeles.

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.

Earlier this week, De Becker told the Post that he believed the Enquirer's reporting about Bezos was sparked by a "politically motivated" leak, and told the Post and the Daily Beast that his investigation had looked at Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez's brother, who is connected to a number of associates of President Donald Trump. Sanchez, the Post reported, "firmly denies playing any role in the revelation of his sister's affair." Michael Sanchez did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.

In his blog post, Bezos said "an AMI leader" Howard told him that Pecker was "apoplectic" about de Becker's investigation.

AMI threatens Bezos

Bezos included an email from Howard to de Becker's lawyer. In the email, Howard wrote that he had evidence of 10 photographs of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, including nude selfies. In his introduction to his descriptions of the photos, Howard appeared to make reference to an upcoming Post article that quoted de Becker.

"(W)ith 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."

Then, in an email to de Becker's attorney, AMI Deputy General Counsel Jon Fine referenced Bezos' investigation and the Post's reporting.

"It is our understanding that your client's representatives, including the Washington Post, continue to pursue and to disseminate these false and spurious allegations in a manner that is injurious to American Media and its executives," Fine said in the email. "Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist such defamatory conduct immediately. Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client's peril."

Bezos called the exchanges an "extortionate proposal."

Pecker has become a public name because of his association with President Donald Trump. Pecker was granted immunity in a federal investigation into former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. In exchange, Pecker agreed to provide federal prosecutors information on hush money deals.

Cohen admitted that he made payments to AMI, which in turn paid women who claim they had affairs with Trump. AMI purchased the rights to the women's stories but never published them — a technique known as "catch and kill."

-- CNN Business' Heather Kelly and Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 513622

Reported Deaths: 10264
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34892556
DeSoto33234432
Hinds32638641
Jackson24854389
Rankin22507403
Lee16337242
Madison14922283
Jones14113247
Forrest13766259
Lauderdale12270324
Lowndes11305193
Lamar10659140
Pearl River9719244
Lafayette8846143
Hancock7836132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7210138
Monroe7010179
Pontotoc6990109
Warren6863178
Panola6759134
Neshoba6730210
Marshall6678141
Bolivar6445151
Union638297
Pike5928156
Alcorn5879107
Lincoln5530136
George510180
Prentiss503884
Tippah491482
Itawamba4844107
Scott477899
Adams4768125
Tate4756116
Leflore4729144
Copiah456495
Yazoo456491
Simpson4546117
Wayne443072
Covington433695
Sunflower4299106
Marion4277112
Coahoma4237109
Leake413990
Newton395781
Tishomingo383593
Grenada3777109
Stone365866
Jasper340666
Attala338290
Winston317892
Chickasaw315467
Clay312278
Clarke301195
Calhoun285049
Holmes271889
Smith269052
Yalobusha243947
Tallahatchie231553
Greene224749
Walthall221666
Lawrence218740
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster205348
Noxubee188742
Montgomery181657
Carroll174541
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152939
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134338
Humphreys131239
Franklin125529
Quitman107628
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65221
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845284

Reported Deaths: 16116
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161552006
Mobile742111380
Madison53307732
Shelby38338368
Baldwin38085589
Tuscaloosa36022641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25562263
Calhoun22586518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20018517
Marshall18782316
Houston17731425
St. Clair16884358
Limestone16148218
Cullman16054303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14989306
Talladega14196299
DeKalb12972269
Walker12030380
Blount10717192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10162194
Coffee9417192
Colbert9342208
Dale9020191
Tallapoosa7256201
Russell708165
Chilton7018170
Escambia6957143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5406130
Dallas5285209
Pike5119109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369580
Butler3435100
Marengo342493
Monroe337266
Randolph334867
Pickens333188
Fayette330385
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317863
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244864
Conecuh192862
Coosa185047
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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