- A lawyer for American Media, Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, defended the tabloid's threats to publish intimate text messages and photos from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Sunday TV.
- Attorney Elkan Abramowitz said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that "politics have nothing to do" with its written warning to Bezos that the tabloid would publish his intimate photos if he did not retract his statements about an earlier report concerning his divorce and new relationship.
- Bezos' response to the threats said the Enquirer was politically motivated in using extortion and blackmail, and suggested a connection to President Donald Trump.
A lawyer for American Media, Inc. defended the National Enquirer's threats to publish intimate text messages and photos from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Attorney Elkan Abramowitz said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that "politics have nothing to do" with the written warning that Bezos described in his response as extortion and blackmail.
"That is not extortion because all that AMI wanted was the truth," Abramowitz said Sunday, echoing the company's earlier defense that the Enquirer had "acted lawfully" in its communications with Bezos.
The source of the story about Bezos and television host Lauren Sanchez was widely rumored to be Sanchez's brother, who is an avid supporter of President Donald Trump and associate of Trump-linked figures including Carter Page and the recently-indicted Roger Stone, though he denied being involved.
Abramowitz said Sunday the source was a longtime associate of the Enquirer.
"Bezos and Ms. Sanchez knew who the source was," he said. "Any investigator who was going to investigate this knew who the source was."
Hitting back at Bezos' seeming suggestion that the Trump administration and the Enquirer's ties to Saudi Arabia may have been involved, Abramowitz said the claim was "libel."
"It was not the White House. It was not Saudi Arabia," he added. "And the libel that was going out there slamming AMI was that this was all a political hatchet job sponsored by either a foreign nation or somebody politically in this country."
—ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 10, 2019
Bezos' response refreshed scrutiny on AMI's legal entanglements. In August 2018, the tabloid's publisher David Pecker reportedly entered into an immunity deal with federal prosecutors who were looking into hush payments from Trump's campaign to women who said they had affairs with Trump, which his former personal lawyer Michal Cohen told investigators were made at Trump's direction.
Pecker was previously reported to be in the room with Trump and Cohen as they devised strategies for quashing reports on women who said they had affairs with Trump, including "catch-and-kill" tactics for negative stories.
Pecker also reportedly proposed that AMI could float embarrassing information about former President Bill and then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for the upcoming election. The company has since categorically denied any such meetings.