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Ex-Enquirer editor says David Pecker 'may end up doing time' after Bezos' 'blackmail' accusation



Former National Enquirer editor says ex-boss David Pecker 'may end up doing time' for 'trying to please Trump' by going after Jeff Bezos after Amazon CEO outed the tabloid's publisher for 'blackmailing him over sexts with his lover'

  • Jerry George once worked as Los Angeles bureau chief for the National Enquirer
  • George told CNN on Friday that his ex-boss, David Pecker, 'may end up doing time' for alleged plot to extort and blackmail Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
  • George said he believes the Enquirer pursued the Bezos story as a way to placate his archenemy, Donald Trump
  • Enquirer's parent company signed non-prosecution agreement with federal authorities in connection with payment to Karen McDougal
  • McDougal is the former Playboy bunny who alleges she had an affair with Trump and was then paid hush money by the Enquirer 
  • Bezos on Thursday published what he says are emails from the magazine's Chief Content Creator, Dylan Howard
  • In the email, Howard said the company has explicit nude photos of Bezos and mistress Lauren Sanchez 
  • Enquirer's parent company, AMI, demanded that Bezos drop his private investigation, according to the emails released by Bezos  

By Ariel Zilber and Lauren Fruen and Chris Spargo For Dailymail.com

Published: 19:44 EST, 9 February 2019 | Updated: 00:24 EST, 10 February 2019

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A former editor at the National Enquirer thinks his ex-boss, publisher David Pecker, could go to prison for allegedly attempting to extort Jeff Bezos.

‘I think there’s a very strong chance that David Pecker may end up doing time,’ Jerry George told CNN on Friday. George once worked as the National Enquirer’s bureau chief in Los Angeles.

The Enquirer’s future appears to be cloudy in light of the bombshell accusation made by Bezos, the Amazon CEO, who claims that the tabloid’s parent company, American Media, Inc, tried to blackmail and extort him.

‘It’s looking less and less like yellow journalism and more like organized crime,’ George told CNN on Friday.

Jerry George (above), a former editor at the National Enquirer, thinks his ex-boss, publisher David Pecker, could go to prison for allegedly attempting to extort Jeff Bezos
Jerry George (above), a former editor at the National Enquirer, thinks his ex-boss, publisher David Pecker, could go to prison for allegedly attempting to extort Jeff Bezos
Jerry George, a former editor at the National Enquirer, thinks his ex-boss, publisher David Pecker (above), could go to prison for allegedly attempting to extort Jeff Bezos
Jerry George, a former editor at the National Enquirer, thinks his ex-boss, publisher David Pecker (above), could go to prison for allegedly attempting to extort Jeff Bezos

Jerry George (left), a former editor at the National Enquirer, thinks his ex-boss, publisher David Pecker (right), could go to prison for allegedly attempting to extort Jeff Bezos

George also said he believes that the Enquirer pursued the Bezos story as a way of getting back in the good graces of President Trump.

Pecker and AMI struck a non-prosecution agreement with federal authorities in connection with a $150,000 hush-money payment to a former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with Trump. 

Trump denies the affair. 

The president has long viewed Bezos as an enemy because of his ownership of The Washington Post, a newspaper that Trump considers hostile. 

George, who worked at the company for 28 years, said that ordinarily the Enquirer would not have reported on a figure like Bezos, but Pecker was keen on publishing the story 'for an audience of one.' 

‘The whole story has snowballed,’ George told CNBC earlier on Friday.

‘The Bezos divorce ordinarily wouldn’t have been registered on the Enquirer Richter scale - other than he is the archenemy of President Trump.

‘So after the Mueller investigation and after AMI became involved in the [Michael Cohen] investigation, there was somewhat of a falling out [between the Enquirer and Trump.’

‘American Media and David Pecker tried to make amends and brought this divorce story to the President as a means of kissing and making up.

'American Media did everything in its power to get Trump elected.'

George said that Pecker has always tailored the Enquirer's coverage to help Trump.

George also said he believes that the Enquirer pursued the Bezos story as a way of getting back in the good graces of President Trump
George also said he believes that the Enquirer pursued the Bezos story as a way of getting back in the good graces of President Trump

George also said he believes that the Enquirer pursued the Bezos story as a way of getting back in the good graces of President Trump

‘When David Pecker came on as CEO, he brought on with him a silent editor, and that was Donald Trump,' George said. 

‘The agreement [between Pecker and Trump] was there would be no negative press on Trump or his organization.’ 

The world's richest man, 55, is now bankrolling a huge hunt for the source of leaked sexts that he exchanged with his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, after the magazine threatened to publish nude photos of the billionaire and his lover if he did not drop an investigation into how editors learned of their affair.

He hired Gavin de Becker to investigate who leaked the messages to the National Enquirer and the motivation behind it, before posting correspondence from the magazine online. 

Sanchez was pictured on Friday for the first time since the Amazon owner publicly accused the National Enquirer of extorting him over private images.

TV host Lauren, 49, looked like she didn't have a care in the world as she laughed and joked with a male friend and smiled as she spoke on the phone Friday.  

In a post Thursday on Medium Bezos wrote: 'Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.'

That letter put Lauren at the center of a battle between Bezos and the Enquirer after AMI's Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard said the company has explicit nude photos of the pair.

But she appeared relaxed and took a call as she made her way to a helicopter at Santa Monica Airport, wearing a baseball cap denim jacket and sneakers, on Friday. 

Bezos and Sanchez have largely avoided each other since the news of their affair broke and she had not been seen in public since Bezos outed the emails from the magazine's Chief Content Officer and the firm's legal team. 

The president has long viewed Bezos as an enemy because of his ownership of The Washington Post. George said that ordinarily the Enquirer would not have reported on a figure like Bezos, but Pecker (seen with Trump in 2004) was publishing 'for an audience of one'
The president has long viewed Bezos as an enemy because of his ownership of The Washington Post. George said that ordinarily the Enquirer would not have reported on a figure like Bezos, but Pecker (seen with Trump in 2004) was publishing 'for an audience of one'

The president has long viewed Bezos as an enemy because of his ownership of The Washington Post. George said that ordinarily the Enquirer would not have reported on a figure like Bezos, but Pecker (seen with Trump in 2004) was publishing 'for an audience of one'

Federal prosecutors are now reviewing the emails sent by American Media to Bezos in order to determine if the company violated its immunity deal by blackmailing him.

The emails were sent just a few months after the company agreed to fully cooperate with the Department of Justice in an ongoing investigation involving President Trump.

That agreement was made as part of an immunity deal with attorneys from the Southern District of New York, but that deal can be revoked if it is discovered that the company has committed an illegal act, such as blackmail or extortion.

That would create a huge problem for AMI, since they admitted to making a $150,000 payment 'in concert with a candidate's presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.'

As part of the initial deal, AMI also 'admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.'

That woman was Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump.

Bezos released what he says are emails he received from AMI Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard in which he threatens to release explicit photos and content relating to the Amazon CEO's relationship with Lauren Sanchez (seen right with Bezos in October)
Bezos released what he says are emails he received from AMI Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard in which he threatens to release explicit photos and content relating to the Amazon CEO's relationship with Lauren Sanchez (seen right with Bezos in October)

Bezos released what he says are emails he received from AMI Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard in which he threatens to release explicit photos and content relating to the Amazon CEO's relationship with Lauren Sanchez (seen right with Bezos in October)

AMI owner David Pecker
AMI owner David Pecker
Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard
Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard

American Media has defended their dealings with billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in a statement, saying the company 'acted lawfully' (AMI owner David Pecker on left, Chief Content Creator Dylan Howard on right)

The National Enquirer's cover story on Bezos' divorce and relationship with Sanchez
The National Enquirer's cover story on Bezos' divorce and relationship with Sanchez

The National Enquirer's cover story on Bezos' divorce and relationship with Sanchez

JEFF BEZOS FIRES BACK AFTER ENQUIRER  BLACKMAIL THREAT 

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. 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.

AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.

And sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together:

“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”

Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons. And yet AMI keeps claiming otherwise:

“American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”

Of course, legitimate media have been challenging that assertion for a long time.

I didn’t know much about most of that a few weeks ago when intimate texts messages from me were published in the National Enquirer. I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter.

To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker. I’ve known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he’s one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know. I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.

Here’s a piece of context: My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.

President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.

(Even though The Post is a complexifier for me, I do not at all regret my investment. The Post is a critical institution with a critical mission. My stewardship of The Post and my support of its mission, which will remain unswerving, is something I will be most proud of when I’m 90 and reviewing my life, if I’m lucky enough to live that long, regardless of any complexities it creates for me.)

Back to the story: Several days ago, an AMI leader advised us that Mr. Pecker is “apoplectic” about our investigation. For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve.

A few days after hearing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, verbally at first, with an offer. They said they had more of my text messages and photos that they would publish if we didn’t stop our investigation.

My lawyers argued that AMI has no right to publish photos since any person holds the copyright to their own photos, and since the photos in themselves don’t add anything newsworthy.

AMI’s claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible. I founded Amazon in my garage 24 years ago, and drove all the packages to the post office myself. Today, Amazon employs more than 600,000 people, just finished its most profitable year ever, even while investing heavily in new initiatives, and it’s usually somewhere between the #1 and #5 most valuable company in the world. I will let those results speak for themselves.

OK, back to their threat to publish intimate photos of me. I guess we (me, my lawyers, and Gavin de Becker) didn’t react to the generalized threat with enough fear, so they sent this.

Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there’s a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can’t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can? (On that point, numerous people have contacted our investigation team about their similar experiences with AMI, and how they needed to capitulate because, for example, their livelihoods were at stake.)

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.”

If we do not agree to affirmatively publicize that specific lie, they say they’ll publish the photos, and quickly. And there’s an associated threat: They’ll keep the photos on hand and publish them in the future if we ever deviate from that lie.

Be assured, no real journalists ever propose anything like what is happening here: I will not report embarrassing information about you if you do X for me. And if you don’t do X quickly, I will report the embarrassing information.

Nothing I might write here could tell the National Enquirer story as eloquently as their own words below.

These communications cement AMI’s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bezos

AMI has defended their emails in a statement released Friday: 'American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mr. Bezos, it was 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 emails exposed by Bezos Howard comments that 'with 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'.

He then goes on to claim that the Enquirer has a 'd*** pic' sent by Bezos and a photo that shows Sanchez's 'nether region.'

After listing the images, Howard writes: 'It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail - and quickly.'

Bezos did respond quickly, by posting that letter and two others online.

He wrote: 'Well, that got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there's a much more important matter involved here.

'If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?'

Jeff Bezos announced in January that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, were divorcing
Jeff Bezos announced in January that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, were divorcing

Jeff Bezos announced in January that he and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, were divorcing

 

NATIONAL ENQUIRER EMAILS TO BEZOS  

From: Howard, Dylan [dhoward@amilink.com] (Chief Content Officer, AMI) Sent: Tuesday, February 5, 2019 3:33 PM To: Martin Singer (litigation counsel for Mr. de Becker) Subject:. Jeff Bezos & Ms. Lauren Sanchez Photos

CONFIDENTIAL & NOT FOR DISTRIBIUTION

Marty:

I am leaving the office for the night. I will be available on my cell — 917 XXX-XXXX.

However, in the interests of expediating this situation, and with 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.

In addition to the “below the belt selfie — otherwise colloquially known as a ‘d*ck pick’” — The Enquirer obtained a further nine images. These include:

· Mr. Bezos face selfie at what appears to be a business meeting.

· Ms. Sanchez response — a photograph of her smoking a cigar in what appears to be a simulated oral sex scene.

· A shirtless Mr. Bezos holding his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring. He’s wearing either tight black cargo pants or shorts — and his semi-erect manhood is penetrating the zipper of said garment.

· A full-length body selfie of Mr. Bezos wearing just a pair of tight black boxer-briefs or trunks, with his phone in his left hand — while wearing his wedding ring.

· A selfie of Mr. Bezos fully clothed.

· A full-length scantily-clad body shot with short trunks.

· A naked selfie in a bathroom — while wearing his wedding ring. Mr. Bezos is wearing nothing but a white towel — and the top of his pubic region can be seen.

· Ms. Sanchez wearing a plunging red neckline dress revealing her cleavage and a glimpse of her nether region.

· Ms. Sanchez wearing a two-piece red bikini with gold detail dress revealing her cleavage.

It would give no editor pleasure to send this email. I hope common sense can prevail — and quickly.

Dylan

__________________________________________________________________________________________

From: Fine, Jon [jfine@amilink.com] (Deputy General Counsel, AMI)Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:57 PMTo: Martin Singer (Mr de Becker’s attorney)Subject: Re: EXTERNAL* RE: Bezos et al / American Media et al

Marty -

Here are our proposed terms:

1. A full and complete mutual release of all claims that American Media, on the one hand, and Jeff Bezos and Gavin de Becker (the “Bezos Parties”), on the other, may have against each other.

2. A public, mutually-agreed upon acknowledgment from the Bezos Parties, released through a mutually-agreeable news outlet, affirming that they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces, and an agreement that they will cease referring to such a possibility.

3. AM agrees not to publish, distribute, share, or describe unpublished texts and photos (the “Unpublished Materials”).

4. AM affirms that it undertook no electronic eavesdropping in connection with its reporting and has no knowledge of such conduct.

5. The agreement is completely confidential.

6. In the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos Parties, AM is released from its obligations under the agreement, and may publish the Unpublished Materials.

7. Any other disputes arising out of this agreement shall first be submitted to JAMS mediation in California

Thank you,

Jon

Deputy General Counsel, Media

American Media, LLC

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Jon P. Fine

Deputy General Counsel, Media

O: (212) 743–6513 C: (347) 920–6541

jfine@amilink.com

February 5, 2019

Via email:

mdsinger@lavelysinger.com

Martin D. Singer

Laveley & Singer

Re: Jeff Bezos / American Media, LLC, et al.

Dear Mr. Singer:

I write in response to your February 4, 2019, letter to Dylan Howard, and to address serious concerns we have regarding the continuing defamatory activities of your client and his representatives regarding American Media’s motivations in its recent reporting about your client.

As a primary matter, please be advised that our newsgathering and reporting on matters involving your client, including any use of your client’s “private photographs,” has been, and will continue to be, consistent with applicable laws. As you know, “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting . . . is not an infringement of copyright.” 17 USC Sec. 107. With millions of Americans having a vested interest in the success of Amazon, of which your client remains founder, chairman, CEO, and president, an exploration of Mr. Bezos’ judgment as reflected by his texts and photos is indeed newsworthy and in the public interest.

Beyond the copyright issues you raise, we also find it necessary to address various unsubstantiated defamatory statements and scurrilous rumors attributed to your client’s representatives in the press suggesting that “strong leads point to political motives”1 in the publication of The National Enquirer story. Indeed, you yourself declared the “politically motivated underpinnings” of our reporting to be “self-evident” in your correspondence on Mr. de Becker’s behalf to Mr. Howard dated January 31, 2019.

Once again, as I advised you in my February 1 response to your January 31 correspondence, American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. Simply put, this was and is a news story.

Yet, 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.

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.Absent the immediate cessation of the defamatory conduct, we will have no choice but to pursue all remedies available under applicable law.

As I advised previously, we stand by the legality of our newsgathering and reporting on this matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, American Media is undeterred from continuing its reporting on a story that is unambiguously in the public interest — a position Mr. Bezos clearly appreciates as reflected in Boies Schiller January 9 letter to American Media stating that your client “does not intend to discourage reporting about him” and “supports journalistic efforts.”

That said, if your client agrees to cease and desist such defamatory behavior, we are willing to engage in constructive conversations regarding the texts and photos which we have in our possession. Dylan Howard stands ready to discuss the matter at your convenience.

All other rights, claims, counterclaims and defenses are specifically reserved and not waived.

Sincerely

 

 

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