WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors are looking at whether Jeff Bezos’s claims that he was blackmailed by the National Enquirer may have violated a non-prosecution agreement that the U.S. Attorney reached with Enquirer-parent AMI last year, the Associated Press reported.
AMI avoided being held liable for its role in arranging $150,000 in hush-money payments to Karen McDougal, a model who claims to have an affair with President Trump. The role of AMI was revealed as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen. As part of the agreement, AMI will not be charged with campaign finance violations, but it is conditioned on the requirement that it not commit any crime for the next three years.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, Nicholas Biase, declined to comment.
In an extraordinary Medium post on Thursday, Bezos claimed that the Enquirer threatened to publish nude and other personal photos unless he and his private investigator, Gavin de Becker, issued a statement in which they said that they had no basis for suggesting that the Enquirer’s coverage was not politically motivated. The Enquirer published an expose on Bezos’s extramarital relationship with Lauren Sanchez that included texts between the two.
Bezos had tapped De Becker to investigate how the Enquirer got the texts. In his Medium post, Bezos published emails that the Enquirer’s representatives sent to Marty Singer, De Becker’s attorney.
On Friday, AMI released a statement saying that they have been engaged in “good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him.
“Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”
In his Medium post, Bezos suggested that there may be a Saudi Arabia connection to the Enquirer’s reporting on him and their reaction to his team’s investigation into how they obtained text messages and photos.
“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote, while referring to reports of AMI CEO David Pecker’s ties to the Saudi royal family. That said, a Senate Intelligence Committee source said that they did not see this as being part of its jurisdiction.
A spokesman for Bezos confirmed Friday that Bezos’ post on Medium was authentic but declined to comment further.
Separately, actor Terry Crews claimed in a tweet Friday that AMI also “tried to silence me” in his lawsuit against WME and agent Adam Venit, whom Crews accused of groping him at a 2016 party. According to Crews, AMI fabricated “stories of me with prostitutes — and even went so far as creating fake receipts.” Venit left WME following Crews’ accusations.