Lawyer: Tabloid did not black­mail Be­zos

En­quirer at­tor­ney de­nies dirty pol­i­tics drove its cov­er­age

Boston Herald - - INSIDE TRACK -

WASH­ING­TON — The Na­tional En­quirer com­mit­ted nei­ther ex­tor­tion nor black­mail by threat­en­ing to pub­lish in­ti­mate pho­tos of Ama­zon CEO Jeff Be­zos, an at­tor­ney for the head of the tabloid’s par­ent com­pany said Sun­day.

Elkan Abro­mowitz, an at­tor­ney for Amer­i­can Me­dia Inc. chief ex­ec­u­tive David Pecker, said on Sun­day a “re­li­able source” well­known to Be­zos and his mis­tress pro­vided the story about the bil­lion­aire’s ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair.

“I think both Be­zos and AMI had in­ter­ests in re­solv­ing their in­ter­ests,” Abramowitz said dur­ing an in­ter­view with ABC’s “This Week”. “It’s ab­so­lutely not a crime to ask some­body to sim­ply tell the truth. Tell the truth that this was not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated, and we will print no more sto­ries.”

Be­zos has said AMI threat­ened to pub­lish the ex­plicit pho­tos of him un­less he stopped in­ves­ti­gat­ing how the En­quirer ob­tained his pri­vate ex­changes with his mis­tress, for­mer TV an­chor Lau­ren Sanchez, and pub­licly de­clare that the En­quirer’s cov­er­age of him was not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. Be­zos also owns The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Be­zos’ in­ves­ti­ga­tors have sug­gested the En­quirer’s cov­er­age of his af­fair was driven by dirty pol­i­tics, and the high-pro­file clash has pit­ted the world’s rich­est man against the leader of Amer­ica’s best-known tabloid, who is a strong backer of Pres­i­dent Trump. Trump has been highly crit­i­cal of Be­zos over his own­er­ship of The Wash­ing­ton Post and Ama­zon, and the Post’s cov­er­age of the White House.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors are look­ing into whether the En­quirer vi­o­lated a co­op­er­a­tion and non­pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment that re­cently spared the gos­sip sheet from charges for pay­ing hush money to a Play­boy model who claimed she had an af­fair with Trump, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day. The peo­ple weren’t au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Asked whether he was con­cerned the Be­zos mat­ter could jeop­ar­dize the non­co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment, Abramowitz said: “Ab­so­lutely not.”

Abramowitz de­fended the tabloid’s han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion as part of a stan­dard le­gal ne­go­ti­a­tion.

AP PHO­TOS

THEIR WORD: A lawyer for Amer­i­can Me­dia Inc. chief ex­ec­u­tive David Pecker, seen above, said the Na­tional En­quirer did not com­mit ex­tor­tion or black­mail by threat­en­ing to pub­lish in­ti­mate pho­tos of Ama­zon CEO Jeff Be­zos

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