During the 2016 presidential campaigns, Donald Trump asked why The National Enquirer had never won a Pulitzer Prize. At the time, the tabloid publication was covering a story that said Trump’s closest primary rival, Ted Cruz, had multiple extramarital affairs with women who were coming forward to talk about it. Everyone laughed at the idea of a journalism prize being awarded to the most laughable of tabloid magazines.
Not to be lost in the Jeff Bezos story is the fact that the publisher of the National Enquirer is very very afraid of the information that Bezos’s investigator had uncovered. https://t.co/neX0lAAIE4
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) February 8, 2019
The motive behind that question became much more clear when it was revealed that the company that owns The National Enquirer, AMI, had been working to cover Trump’s affairs and other misdeeds for years. Now, facing accusations by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos of blackmail and extortion, the story has become much more complicated.
‘Prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office have been provided with information about key exchanges of concern to Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com Inc. In a jaw-dropping public blog post Thursday night, Bezos published letters from lawyers representing National Enquirer’s publisher, American Media Inc., who demanded he drop a private investigation into the media company, or else it would publish more embarrassing photographs about the wealthy businessman. Bezos accused the National Enquirer publisher of extortion.’
This is a “textbook example of blackmail and extortion” and “shows how frightening it should be to the citizens of the United States that the National Enquirer reportedly has a safe full of information about the president of the United States.” https://t.co/Iz6aGS1moU
— Ted Boutrous (@BoutrousTed) February 8, 2019
AMI is currently under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors with the New York Attorney General’s office thanks to their involvement with Trump. As Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign donations at the direction of the president, he also revealed that AMI was involved in those donations. To avoid prosecution for that crime, AMI agreed to turn state’s evidence.
Their alleged blackmail of Bezos may have violated that agreement.
‘The authorities are now reviewing the matter for potential criminal activity. If they find any, the must also weigh whether the conduct breached AMI’s previous deal to assist prosecutors. AMI agreed not to commit crimes as part of that deal to avoid prosecution over hush-money payments to women who claimed relationships with President Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, played a pivotal role in some of the payments and has pleaded guilty to related charges.’
Trump's pal David Pecker tried to blackmail Jeff Bezos. Big mistake. Huge.
"Any personal embarrassment AMI [publisher of National Enquirer] could cause me takes a back seat…If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" –@JeffBezos https://t.co/2IUKSDKOaf
— Polly Sigh (@dcpoll) February 8, 2019
The story becomes even more complicated as it involves matters on a global scale. The death of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, is still under investigation. Bezos says he may have information about that killing that could prove damaging for Trump and AMI’s owner, David Pecker.
‘The Bezos tabloid matter could prove embarrassing not only for AMI, but for others in Trump’s inner circle who have engaged with David Pecker, AMI’s overseer. Bezos’s post pointedly referenced Pecker’s connections with the Saudi government, and suggested more would come to light.’
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) February 8, 2019
While the blackmail story was already being closely followed by the press, the involvement of the president in this tangled web of corruption and lies will make it an even bigger focus.
‘The deal between federal prosecutors in Manhattan and AMI was struck in September. It stipulated that AMI “shall commit no crimes whatsoever” for three years…AMI was required to produce “any document, record or other tangible evidence relating to matters about which this office or any designated law enforcement agency inquires of it.”’