“Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing,” Bezos wrote. “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.”
“In the AMI letters I’m making public, you will see the precise details of their extortionate proposal: They will publish the personal photos unless Gavin de Becker and I make the specific false public statement to the press that we ‘have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.’
Howard and AMI deputy general counsel Jon Fine did not immediately respond to CNN Business’ requests for comment. Neither did a spokesperson for the Washington Post. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment other than to confirm that Bezos wrote the post.
Gavin de Becker, whom the Washington Post described as “Bezos’ longtime private security consultant,” has been conducting an investigation to determine the source of the leaks to the Enquirer.
In his blog post, Bezos said that “an AMI leader advised us” that Pecker was “apoplectic” about de Becker’s investigation.
AMI threatens Bezos
Bezos included an email from Howard to de Becker’s lawyer. In the email, Howard wrote that he had evidence of 10 photographs of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, including nude selfies. In his introduction to his descriptions of the photos, Howard appeared to make reference to an upcoming Post article that quoted de Becker.
“(W)ith The Washington Post poised to publish unsubstantiated rumors of The National Enquirer’s initial report, I wanted to describe to you the photos obtained during our newsgathering.”
Then, in an email to de Becker’s attorney, AMI Deputy General Counsel Jon Fine referenced Bezos’ investigation and the Post’s reporting.
“It is our understanding that your client’s representatives, including the Washington Post, continue to pursue and to disseminate these false and spurious allegations in a manner that is injurious to American Media and its executives,” Fine said in the email. “Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist such defamatory conduct immediately. Any further dissemination of these false, vicious, speculative and unsubstantiated statements is done at your client’s peril.”
Bezos called the exchanges an “extortionate proposal.”
Cohen admitted that he made payments to AMI, which in turn paid women who claim they had affairs with Trump. AMI purchased the rights to the women’s stories but never published them — a technique known as “catch and kill.”
— CNN Business’ Heather Kelly and Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.