Federal lawyers consider charges made by Amazon's CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos to determine whether National Enquirer's parent company may have violated the terms of a non-persecution agreement over a domestic payment intended to help Donald Trump's chances in 2016- the election, according to people familiar with
Bezos – the founder of Amazon, the world's richest man, and the owner of The Washington Post – on Thursday sent an extraordinary account accusing Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc., of trying to push him to issue a public statement about the supermarket tabloid in exchange for the magazine not publishing embarrassing and sexually explicit images of him.
Bezos post su stamped that AMI's behavior, which he called "extortion and extortion," could be a violation of the non-prosecutor's office signed with federal prosecutors in New York in September as part of the Justice Department's investigation into campaign financing breaches by Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer.
The agreement requires AMI to "not commit to any crimes" for a period of three years. If AMI violates the terms of the agreement, campaign-funded crimes can be charged.
As part of the deal, AMI admitted that it paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $ 150,000 before the 2016 election to silence her claims of an affair with Trump.
"Assuming that AMI continues to comply with the agreement, the office has agreed not to challenge AMI for its role in that payment," the actors accused in a letter spelling out the terms of the agreement.
Two people acquainted with the case said that the office of the American lawyer in Manhattan considers Bezos's charges of deciding whether AMI's conduct regarding his photographs constitutes a violation of the terms of the agreement. It is unclear how long such a review can take. A spokesman for the US law firm refused to comment.
On Friday, American Media Inc. insisted that it had not broken any law, but promised to thoroughly investigate extortion claims.
"American Media fervently believes that it acted lawfully in reporting the story of Mr. Bezos. Furthermore, at the time of the last allegations by Mr. Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all issues with him, the statement said. from the board, led by AMI's general manager, David J. Pecker, 19659013] "However, in light of the nature of the allegations issued by Mr. Bezos, the board has convened and determined that it should be investigated promptly and thoroughly. After completing this survey, the board will take whatever is necessary, the statement said.
On Thursday, Bezos said that the principal indicated that it would publish the photos if he did not return from an investigation of the tabloid. The battle between titanium and supermarket tabloid had been the building since January, when Enquirer notified Bezos that it intended to publish text messages that revealed his relationship with former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.
About two days later, Bezos announced he was divorcing his wife, and the investigator's history appeared shortly after that announcement. Bezos also hired investigators to find out how AMI had received the lyrics.
In a remarkable first-person post to the online publishing platform, Bezos said AMI had recently threatened to publish incredible images, unless he said publicly that he had no basis for suggesting Enquirer coverage was politically motivated.
To back up these charges, Bezos sent e-mails he had received from one of AMI's lawyers, Jon Fine.
In an email sent Wednesday, Fine wrote to offer the terms of a proposed settlement – that the text and images would not be published as long as Bezos and his investigator issued a statement "confirming that they do not have the knowledge or the basis to suggest that AM's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces and an agreement they would cease to refer to such an opportunity. "
Bezos also shared a letter sent a day earlier where AMI" rejected the claim that reporting was initiated, dictated or influenced in any way by external forces, political, or others. Simply put, this was and is a news story, yet it is our understanding that client representatives, including The Washington Post, continue to pursue and convey these false and false claims in a way which is detrimental to US media and its leaders. "
It is unclear whether there were other messages sent by AMI, and Bezos did not publish the contents of any m. aging that those working for him could have sent to AMI during this period.
Jay Carney, Amazon's senior vice president of global corporate affairs, refused to comment on Friday.  Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor in private practice in Chicago, said the prosecutors would see the whole conversation between the two sides, but that AMI's claim could be a breach of the Hobbs Act, the federal law against extortion. 19659023] "You can't use extortion to get something of value from someone else, even if you feel the case you're getting is something you're legally entitled to," said Cotter. As an example, Cotter said it would be extortionate for an employee who owes back pay to threaten to burn down the boss's house unless he is paid.
Extortion is the unlawful use of power or fear – including fear of financial harm – to acquire something of value from another.
Cotter said the threat in the Bezos case could be financially detrimental to Bezo's business, while the value of value required is a public statement depriving the question of political motives.
"Under law, it doesn't matter if AMI believes the statement they use extortionate threats to get is true or not. It doesn't matter if the images are real," he said.
The Bezos case echoes from another investigation by the FBI, where a freelance splash writer in the New York Post came under scrutiny after billionaire Ron Burkle accused him of trying to blackmail money in exchange for milder coverage.
This 2006 case, which contained secretly recorded negotiations between the two sides, ultimately resulted in no accusations being filed. The gossip writer accused Burkle of trying to catch him because he was angry with what was written.
Bezos charges against AMI come in a vulnerable time for the firm, as the terms of their non-persecution agreement will last at least September 2021. The terms of this agreement include a promise that the company will "truthfully and completely disclose all information" requested by New York Actors. It also requires the company to make available any documents or witnesses requested by the prosecuting authorities.
On Friday, Witness press secretary Hogan Gidley said he was "uncertain" about the president's awareness of Bezo's allegations. "We don't get into a conversation about anything between Jeff Bezos and a tabloid magazine," he said.
Sarah Ellison contributed to this report.