Ronan Farrow says National Enquirer tried to blackmail him too

Bezos claims extortion blackmail from National Enquirer

Bezos claims extortion blackmail from National Enquirer

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday he was the target of "extortion and blackmail" by the publisher of the National Enquirer, which he said threatened to publish revealing personal photos of him unless he stopped investigating its acquisition of other private images and messages and unless he declared its coverage wasn't politically motivated.

The post, which was linked from Bezos' Twitter account, was a remarkable escalation of a spat between the world's richest man and a tabloid known for its loyalty to the president of the United States.

It reported that Bezos sent "sleazy text messages and gushing love notes" to Sanchez, months before Bezos announced he was splitting up with his wife, MacKenzie. That same day, the National Enquirer touted that it would publish alleged intimate text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, whom he was said to be dating.

In exchange for the non-publication, Bezos would make a statement that he and Gavin de Becker, who led the investigation into whether The National Enquirer's coverage was politically motivated, and how they obtained Bezos' private information, had no basis for "suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces".

Mr Bezos said his ownership of the Washington Post was a "complexifier" for him because he had made enemies of "certain powerful people", including President Donald Trump, who is a friend of AMI's boss David Pecker.

Bezos said the statement AMI was proposing was false and described the offer as an "extortionate proposal". (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)"Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption".

A spokesman for the USA attorney's office in Manhattan did not immediately comment on Bezos' assertion that AMI had committed extortion.

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"If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion", he wrote, "how many people can?" Trump has been highly critical of Bezos and the Post's coverage of the White House. Pecker directed the Enquirer to write favorable stories about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, while paying $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress her claim of a long-running affair with Trump.

The tabloid magazine released an investigation into Bezos' relationship with Lauren Sanchez (pictured in the gallery alongside Bezos and ex-husband Patrick Whitesell) back in January.

According to the New York Times, Trump and Pecker dined together to celebrate him winning the presidency.

In one e-mail that Mr Bezos disclosed, Mr Howard wrote that The Enquirer had obtained photos of Mr Bezos and Ms Sanchez as part of its "news-gathering".

In his blog, Bezos cited an email from AMI deputy general counsel, Jon Fine, to a lawyer representing de Becker. "I'm glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing", Bezos wrote in a Medium post.

"Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos's phone was hacked", the reporter continued. "It's a shocking and frightening thing Mr. Bezos has revealed".

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