Late Thursday Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, posted a tweet referring to a post he’d written about his dealings with the National Enquirer, it’s parent company AMI, and AMI’s CEO, David Pecker.
In his written statement that can be found at Medium.com, Bezos explains that AMI along with Pecker gave him an offer that amounted to blackmail, he writes, “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 goes on to say that after “intimate texts messages from,” himself, “were published in the National Enquirer,” he hired investigators, to learn just how the company obtained his private text messages.
He claims that Pecker was “apoplectic,” upon hearing about the investigation writing, “For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.”
As Bezos notes in his written statement AMI, “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,” he adds, “Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.”
It was after they learned of Pecker’s anger over the investigation that Bezos says they were approached first verbally and later through written communications.
According to the statement the offer was simple, back off the investigation or they would publish “more of my text messages and photos,” including a “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick.'”
Bezos explains this caught his attention, but not in the way it was intended he writes, “If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?”
You can find the full contents of the letters he says came from AMI, @ Meduim.com.
New Yorker journalist, Ronan Farrow, shortly after Bezos issued his statement, issued a statement via Twitter that explained he and one other “prominent journalist,” had also faced similar blackmail efforts by AMI regarding their investigation into AMI’s “catch and kill” practices.
A former AP editor, Ted Bridis, replied to Farrow, stating that the AP had been “warned explicitly” that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds of AP journalists, he does note that he “never saw evidence of this either way.”
We were warned explicitly by insiders that AMI had hired private investigators to dig into backgrounds of @AP journalists looking into the tabloid’s efforts on behalf of Trump. Never saw evidence of this either way, and it didn’t stop our reporting.— Ted Bridis (@tbridis) February 8, 2019
In light of Bezos statement it was reported Friday by Bloomberg that federal prosecutors are now reviewing whether “there was any criminal activity,” or “whether AMI, the National Enquirer’s parent company, violated an earlier agreement not to engage in criminal conduct.”
Bloomberg explains that Nicholas Biase a U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan spokesman declined to comment.
AMI spokesman Jon Hammond told Bloomberg, “I have no knowledge of this.”
Second to report that New York Federal Prosecutors were “probing” any violation to their cooperation agreement was AP News, according to the article they are said to be looking “at whether an email exchange Bezos published shows AMI violated an agreement it struck to avoid prosecution for alleged campaign finance violations.”
Both Bloomberg and AP are citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
AMI released a statement shortly after the claim of blackmail was made by Bezos, according to their press release AMI believes “fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.”
AMI goes on to say that based on the allegations brought by 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.”
For What It’s Worth: As the News Blender reported in December the deal AMI reached with federal prosecutors was regarding a hush money payment of $150,000 paid to Karen McDougal, and another payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels of $130,000, both woman alleged that they had a sexual relationship with then-businessman Donald Trump.
According to the press release at the the time, at least one of the payments was made, “in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.”
The press release goes on to say that, “AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”