A lawyer for American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker on Sunday denied that the National Enquirer, an AMI property, blackmailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by threatening to release explicit photos he shared during an extramarital affair.
“It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail,” Pecker attorney Elkan Abramowitz told ABC “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. Abramowitz also denied that the story was motivated by Pecker’s connections to President Donald Trump.
In a recent Medium post, Bezos said the Enquirer had threatened to release revealing photos he’d shared with news anchor and pilot Lauren Sanchez, with whom he’d had an affair, unless he stopped an investigation into leaked messages obtained by the tabloid and made a “specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.'”
Abramowitz on Sunday characterized the emails Bezos published on Medium as a straightforward offer: “Both Bezos and AMI had interests in resolving their differences.”
“That is not extortion because all that AMI wanted was the truth,” he added later.
Bezos investigator Gavin de Becker earlier this week told the Washington Post, which Bezos owns, that he thought a “government entity might have gotten ahold of [Bezos’] text messages,” in Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia’s words.
Abramowitz said the magazine’s source for the photos was “well-known to both Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez” and called it “libel” to imply the story was “inspired” by the White House or Saudi Arabia.
The Enquirer’s source, the lawyer said, “was not the White House, it was not Saudi Arabia,” but rather “a reliable source that had given information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well-known to both Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez.”
Abramowitz refused to say whether the source was Sanchez’s Trump-supporting brother, Michael Sanchez.
“It’s absolutely not a crime to ask somebody to simply tell that truth,” he said separately, characterizing the Enquirer emails to Bezos that Bezos made public. “Tell the truth that this was not politically motivated and we will print no more stories about it.”
AMI — and federal prosecutors — are looking into the matter as well.
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