- Jeff Bezos and his private investigators are floating the theory that a "government entity" may have accessed the Amazon CEO's personal texts, Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia said Thursday night on MSNBC.
- The comments were made hours after Bezos penned a viral Medium blog post accusing the National Enquirer's publisher of "extortion and blackmail" by threatening to release nude photos of him unless he agreed to certain terms.
- The National Enquirer previously published an exposé on Bezos' affair with former TV host Lauren Sanchez, which included leaked photos and texts, in the wake of the Amazon CEO's divorce announcement.
- In his blog post, Bezos said David Pecker — the CEO and chairman of the National Enquirer's publisher, American Media Inc. — has ties to both the US and Saudi governments.
Jeff Bezos' private investigators are considering the possibility that a "government entity" is responsible for accessing and leaking private text messages between the Amazon CEO and Lauren Sanchez, according to a Washington Post reporter.
In an appearance Thursday night on MSNBC, the Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia said Bezos' head of security, Gavin de Becker, has floated the theory that a "government entity" may be to blame. The leaked texts ended up in the hands of the National Enquirer, which published an exposé on Bezos' affair with Sanchez in the wake of the billionaire's announcement that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, were divorcing.
"[Gavin de Becker] has provided us with some very interesting insights into the backstages of this whole drama, including the investigation that has taken place," Roig-Franzia said on MSNBC. "He does not believe that Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked. He thinks it's possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages."
—Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) February 8, 2019
Since the National Enquirer story was first published, Bezos' security team has been investigating who was responsible for leaking the intimate text messages and photos to the paper. De Becker told The Daily Beast last week that he believes the leak was "politically motivated."
Bezos owns The Washington Post and has often been the focal point of Trump's criticisms of the publication. Trump has also criticized Amazon's work with the US Postal Service, saying the USPS should be charging Amazon more to help deliver its packages.
One theory is that the National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. (AMI) — or perhaps a person or outside government — may have leaked the texts in an effort to demonstrate support for Trump or embarrass the owner of a newspaper that has written critical coverage of the president in the past.
In a blistering blog post published Thursday on Medium, Bezos said AMI threatened to publish nude photos of him unless he ended his investigation into the leaks and released a statement retracting the theory that the leaks were politically motivated.
AMI has refuted Bezos' claims that its reporting was influenced by politics, saying in a statement on Friday that it "acted lawfully" in reporting the story and its board would investigate Bezos' claims that he was blackmailed and extorted. So far, no nude photos of Bezos have been made public.
Bezos references AMI political ties to Trump and Saudis
Ties between Donald Trump and AMI have added fuel to claims that the Bezos affair story was politically motivated.
Pecker was reportedly granted immunity in a deal with federal prosecutors who are investigating payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. AMI reportedly helped suppress news stories about the affairs ahead of the 2016 presidential election by buying the rights to the women's stories and never running them.
Bezos also appears to allege potential ties between Pecker and the Saudi government. Pecker has pursued business in Saudi Arabia and apparently once brought a guest who had strong ties to the Saudi crown prince to a White House dinner, according to The New York Times. AMI produced a magazine in early 2018 called The New Kingdom that strongly praised the Saudi government ahead of the crown prince's visit to the US.
"Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is 'apoplectic' about our investigation," Bezos wrote in his blog post. "For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve."
Another person on AMI's board of directors also has ties to Trump. David Hughes, one of four people on the board, once served as the chief financial officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts, up until it filed for bankruptcy in September 2014.
Other possibilities floated
In the investigation into who leaked the texts, de Becker told The Daily Beast he was questioning Sanchez's brother, Michael. Michael Sanchez is an outspoken Trump supporter with ties to two Trump associates: the longtime Trump ally Roger Stone and Trump's former foreign-policy adviser, Carter Page.
Sanchez has denied he was responsible for leaking the texts. He further accused de Becker of telling "lies, half-truths, sloppy tabloid leaks, [and] crazy conspiracy theories."
Sanchez reportedly floated the idea to Bezos' investigators that the "deep state" was responsible for accessing the billionaire's text messages. However, investigators are not taking the claim seriously, The Daily Beast reported.