The National Enquirer publisher is questioning whether a collaborative agreement with federal prosecutors violated claims by Amazon's CEO. Jeff Bezos that the tabloid was trying to extort him.
Sources on Friday told Bloomberg News that federal prosecutors with the South District of New York are looking at publisher American Media Inc.'s (AMI) behavior, increasing the potential for new legal issues for the company.
At stake, an agreement AMI entered into with federal prosecutors to gain immunity in the distinction in possible campaign fines in President Trump
The non-persecution agreement is exceptionally broad, including the language that prevents AMI from committing criminal activity for three years. It could make it easier for prosecutors to identify laws that AMI may have violated in its dealings with Bezos, "said The Hill's legal experts.
"[The] Agreeing to refrain from reprimanding AMI and [the company’s CEO David Pecker] was because the prosecutors saw a certain value that their investigation would receive based on truthful information coming from AMI and Mr. Pecker," said Jeff Tsai. former federal chief, The Hill.
"However, the value of AMI and the value of Mr. Pecker is severely tarnished or reduced if they themselves continue to engage in criminal activity or say wrong or untruthful information."
Bezos, Amazon's leader and owner of The Washington Post On Thursday evening, a bomb haul dropped and accused the national author of "extortion and extortion" in an online post. Bezos said that tabloid threatened to publish intimate images of him, unless he conducted a private investigation of the tabloid. covering the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, had upset AMI's CEO David Pecker.
"Instead of surrendering to extortion and extortion, I have decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal the cost and embarrassment they threaten, "said Bezos.
AMI in a statement on Friday said it" believes that "the tabloid" acted lawfully "but promised to Immediately examine Bezo's requirements.
But the fallout threatens the company with new legal problems due to its non-persecution agreement.
Under the agreement, AMI "shall commit no crimes whatsoever" otherwise "be subject to prosecution for any crime offense which this office has knowledge of, including damage and the prevention of justice."
And the non-persecution agreement gives the accused broad authority to investigate any illegal behavior that may have violated the terms.
AMI and Mr. Pecker … are prohibited under the terms of their own agreement to commit crimes, without qualifications, "Tsai said, and also noted federal crimes" a crime that is state law in nature or even with local or municipal in nature. Legal experts, however, are divided on whether the situation alleged by Bezos describes "extortion and extortion", mainly because federal definitions of these crimes are narrow.
One of the most important federal extortion provisions, the Hobbs Act, defines extortion as threats "property".
"The US Supreme Court … basically interprets the concept of" property "under the Hobbs Law to refer specifically to money or other economic and other economic goods of value, said legal expert Stuart Green The Hill. "In this case, they do not ask him for any money, [and] do not ask Bezos to write a recommendation for them.
" I do not think that is enough to satisfy the federal blackmail law, "Stuart said.
But Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor in a CNN op-ed, claims that "property" should not be defined as "monetary or worth more than a nominal amount, or even tangible."  "I would be comfortable to argue for a jury that this goes far beyond legally acceptable boardroom hardball, "Honig wrote.
Paul Cassel, a former federal judge, told The Hill that he believes the emails constitute extortion or extortion under a separate section of the US "The transmission via e-mail appears to be a federal crime," Cassel said. "It seems that all elements of the extortion or extortion laws are very pleased with the footprints. "
Chai One of the events began when Enquirer earlier this year published a series of exhibits about Bezos that had an extramarital affair. Bezos shortly thereafter said that he was investigating how the client received text between him and his girlfriend.
The Leading Investigator who was hired by Bezos, made several public comments that the National Enquirer exhibits might have been politically motivated, Pecker is a long-standing friend of President Trump, who has tracked Bezos over his ownership of The Washington Post.
AMI Leaders at that time reached Bezos, demanding that he announce that he "had no knowledge or basis to suggest that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces. "
Although AMI maintains it, it did not do anything illegal, the broad language of their deal could put it on thin ice and give prosecutors more influence over the company in the Trump employee survey.
AMI's actions will now be meticulously investigated by federal prosecutors.
"I think it is at least enough to investigate potential extortion," former federal prosecutor Glen Kopp told The Hill.
"When you have an agreement with the government saying you can't commit crimes, so the government is going to be particularly sensitive to claims. "