By Andrew O'Reilly
Published February 10, 2019
A lawyer representing American Media CEO David Pecker denied on Sunday that President Trump or Saudi Arabia leaked intimate messages exchanged between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his mistress ahead of the National Enquirer’s recent exposé on Bezos’ extramarital affair.
“Bezos and Ms. [Lauren] Sanchez knew who the source was. Any investigator that was going to investigate this knew who the source was,” attorney Elkan Abramowitz said during an interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“It was not the White House. It was not Saudi Arabia. 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,” said Abramowitz, who also denied that conservative operative and Trump adviser Roger Stone was behind the leak.
Saudi officials on Sunday also denied having anything to do with the leaked messages between Bezos and his mistress.
“This is something between the two parties, we have nothing to do with it,” Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs, told CBS’ “Face the Nation."
Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish the explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges with his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, and publicly declare that the Enquirer's coverage of him was not politically motivated. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
Bezos' investigators have suggested the Enquirer's coverage of his affair was driven by dirty politics, and the high-profile clash has pitted the world's richest man against the leader of America's best-known tabloid, who is a strong backer of President Trump. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post and Amazon, and the Post's coverage of the White House.
Federal prosecutors are looking into whether the Enquirer violated a cooperation and nonprosecution agreement that recently spared the gossip sheet from charges for paying hush money to a Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday. The people weren't authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Bezos' affair became public when the Enquirer published a story on Jan. 9 about his relationship with Sanchez, who is also married. Bezos then hired a team of private investigators to find out how the tabloid got the texts and photos the two exchanged.
Bezos' personal investigators, led by his security consultant Gavin de Becker, have focused on Sanchez's brother, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Michael Sanchez is his sister's manager, a Trump supporter and an acquaintance of Roger Stone.
After Bezos on Thursday posted the exchanges with AMI in an extraordinary blog post on Medium.com, several celebrities and journalists posted on social media that they too had been threatened by AMI. Ronan Farrow said he and "and at least one other prominent journalist" involved in reporting on the tabloid had "fielded similar 'stop digging or we'll ruin you' blackmail efforts from AMI" and actor Terry Crews alleged the company tried to "silence him" by "fabricating stories of me with prostitutes."
In recent months, the Trump-friendly tabloid acknowledged secretly assisting Trump's White House campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The company then buried the story until after the 2016 election.
Trump's longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty last year to charges that included helping to broker that transaction.
As part of a nonprosecution agreement in that case, AMI promised not to break the law. The deal requires top executives, including Pecker and the Enquirer's editor, Dylan Howard, to cooperate with federal prosecutors. A violation of the agreement could lead to criminal charges over the McDougal payments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.