Hamilton Journal News : 2019-02-11

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A3 MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2019 | COMPLETE. IN-DEPTH. DEPENDABLE. MORE OF TODAY’S TOPNEWS CONTINUINGCOVERAGE ELECTION2020 Lawyer for Enquirer CEO denies extortionof Bezos Minnesota senator joins 2020 field Democrat touts Midwestern values in kickoff speech. It’s no ‘crime to ask someone to tell the truth,’ lawyer says. the tabloid produceda glossy magazine that included 97 pages saluting Saudi Arabia, ahead of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s arrival in theU.S. on a public relations blitz to transform his country’s image. “It’s like a soap opera,” al-Jubeir said of Bezos’ allegations during a roundtable on Friday with reporters in Washington. Asked about AMI’s recent $450 million debt restructuring, Abramowitz said “not a penny” of that money came fromthe Saudi kingdom. The company had sought financing fromthe Saudis butnever received any, he said. After Bezos on Thursday posted the exchanges with AMIin an extraordinary blog post on Medium.com, several celebrities and journalists posted on social media that they toohadbeenthreatened by AMI. Ronan Farrow said he and “and at least one other prominent journalist” involved in reporting on the tabloid had “fielded similar ‘stop digging or we’ll ruin you’ blackmail efforts from AMI” and actor Terry Crews alleged the company tried to “silence him” by “fabricating stories ofme with prostitutes.” Abramowitz said he didn’t knowof any AMI employees blackmailing celebrities or journalists or “committing any crime at all.” In recent months, the Trump- friendly tabloid acknowledged secretly assisting Trump’s White House campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy centerfold KarenMcDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then buried the story until after the 2016 election. BySaraBurnett AssociatedPress ByMichael Balsamo — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Sunday joined the growing group of Democrats jostling to be presidentandpositioned herself as the most prominent Midwestern candidate in the field, as her party tries to win back voters in a region that helped put Donald Trump in the White House. “For every American, I’m running for you,” she told an exuberantcrowdgatheredon a freezing, snowy afternoon at a parkalong theMississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the background. “And I promise you this: As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’vedonemywhole life. And nomatterwhat, I’ll lead from the heart,” the threeterm senator said. Klobuchar, who has prided herself for achieving results through bipartisan cooperation, did not utter Trump’s name during her kickoff speech, though she did bemoan the conduct of “foreignpolicybytweet.” She instead spoke of the need to “heal the heartofourdemocracy and renewour commitment to thecommongood.” Asserting Midwestern values, shetold acrowdwarmed by hot chocolate, apple cider, heat lamps and bonfires: “I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit.” Klobuchar, whoeasilywon a third-term last year, has pointed to her broad appeal across Minnesota as she has discussed a2020run. Shehas MINNEAPOLIS AssociatedPress Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has prided herself for achieving results through bipartisan cooperation. TheNational Enquirer committed neither extortion nor blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos ofAmazonCEO JeffBezos, anattorney for the head of the tabloid’s parent company said Sunday. Elkan Abromowitz, an attorney forAmericanMedia Inc. chief executive David Pecker, said on Sunday a “reliable source” well-known to Bezos and his mistress provided the story about the billionaire’s extramarital affair. 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 TheWashington 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-knowntabloid, who is a strong backer of President Donald Trump. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos over his ownership of TheWashington 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 WASHINGTON— David Pecker is the CEO of American Media Inc., which owns theNational Enquirer. Amazon owner JeffBezos has accusedAMI of trying to blackmail him with racy pictures froman affair. AP FRANCOIS DURAND/ drawn support from voters in urban, suburban and rural areas, including in dozens of countiesTrumpwonin2016. She has said that success could translate to other Midwestern states such as Michigan andWisconsin, reliably Democratic in presidential races for decades until Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. She said the country’s “sense ofcommunity is fracturing” today,“worndownby the petty and vicious nature of our politics.” The list of Democrats already in the race features several better-known senators with the ability to raise huge amounts of money — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The field soon could expand to include prominent Democrats such as formerVice President Joe Biden of Delaware and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. A Des Moines Register/ CNN/ Mediacom poll conducted by Selzer& Company in December found that Klobuchar was largely unfamiliar to likely Iowa caucus-goers, with 54 percent saying they didn’t know enough about her to have an opinion, while 38 percent had a favorable opinion. GETTY IMAGES ALEXWONG / GETTY IMAGES Bezos’ personal investigators, led by his security consultant Gavin de Becker, have focused on Sanchez’s brother, according to a person familiarwith the matter. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Michael Sanchez is his sister’s manager, aTrumpsupporter and an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page. Abramowitz would not comment when asked whether Michael Sanchez was the Enquirer’s source but said that “Bezos and Ms. Sanchez knew who the source was.” Michael Sanchez has declined to speak withAPon the record. In a Jan. 31 tweet, hesaid without evidence that de Becker “spreads fake, unhinged conservative conspiracy theories.” In his blog post on Thursday, Bezos alluded to a possible relationship between Saudi Arabia and AMI, but Adel al- Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state of foreign affairs, said he had “no idea” about such a relationship and doubted the kingdom played any role in urging AMI to run negative stories about Bezos. Last year, 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 TheAssociated Press on Friday. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. But asked during an interview with ABC’s “ThisWeek” whether he was concerned the Bezosmatter could jeopardize the noncooperation agreement, Abramowitzsaid: “Absolutely not.” Abramowitz defended the tabloid’s handling of the situation as part of a standard legal negotiation. “I think both Bezos and AMIhadinterests in resolving their interests,” Abramowitz said. “It’s absolutely not a crime to ask somebody to simply tell the truth. Tell the truth that thiswas not politically motivated, andwe will print no more stories.” Bezos’ affair became public when the Enquirer published story on Jan. 9 about his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, who is also married. 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