National Enquirer publisher denies breaking law in Jeff Bezos 'blackmail photos' row

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Ronan Farrow, the New Yorker's Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has reported on the National Enquirer, said in a tweet Thursday night that AMI attempted to blackmail him.

The clash between the world's richest man and America's most aggressive supermarket tabloid spilled into public view late Thursday when Bezos accused it of threatening to print photos of Bezos and the woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

"Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him", the company said.

AMI was "unnerved" when Bezos' investigation into the story touched on the publishing company's Saudi connections, he claimed.

In Bezos' blog post, the Amazon mogul wrote David Pecker, the chairman and CEO of American Media Inc., and his company "have also been investigated for various actions they've taken on behalf of the Saudi Government".

"What you don't want to have happen is all of this lingering stuff that bleeds itself out and it just takes on a life of its own", said Larcker, who doesn't anticipate the controversy hurting Amazon sales at this point.

A spokesman for the SDNY attorney's office declined to comment on the matter.

As for Bezos, Jon Fine threatened that AMI would go public with the photos unless Bezos and Gavin de Becker followed a number of different terms, including stating publicly that they "have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces" (which the Amazon CEO says is a falsehood). He claims that "numerous" people have told their investigative team that they received and gave into blackmail threats from AMI. AMI has entered into a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in NY and is cooperating in the investigation into its payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress a story about her claimed affair with Trump.

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It's a lesson Pecker could have learned from another former Trump associate who, in service of the Donald, also ran afoul of the law: Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign manager who was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in October 2017 for a bevy of charges related to his prior lobbying work for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.

After ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in December for bank fraud, tax fraud, campaign finance violations, and lying to congressional investigators, prosecutors in the SDNY announced in a press release that it "previously reached a non-prosecution agreement" with AMI.

Trump's longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty previous year to charges that included helping to broker that transaction. AMI also allegedly enteredinto an immunity deal with the Department of Justice about the "catch and kill" process. "That by itself is problematic", he told Fox News.

If SDNY determines that a crime was committed, the non-prosecution may be voided and any testimony AMI provided will be "admissible in evidence in any criminal proceeding brought against AMI".

His blog contained itemised details of 10 pictures in an email from National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard, who said they had been "obtained during our newsgathering".

Camera IconPatrick Whitesell, Lauren Sanchez and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

What Pecker is about to learn, to his sorrow, is that prosecutors tend not to extend that kind of deal twice. "Once they feel there is value after a "proffer" session with that person, will they grant it", he said.

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