Fox Business / YouTube Jeff Bezos accuses National Enquirer of 1549671138.jpg...
Fox Business / YouTube

David Pecker, longtime publisher of the National Enquirer, appears to be increasingly in hot water over his gossip rag’s handling of private text messages taken from Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’ personal phone. The wealthiest person in the world, Bezos has a security team investigating the breach, and his lead security expert believes a “government agency” may be responsible for the hack. He did not name any specific U.S. agency, and experts say it is more likely to have been a foreign government’s.

Nonetheless, the publication of the texts between Bezos and his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, have now set into motion an investigation that David Pecker may come to deeply regret. As Bezos’ team began to dig, Pecker and executives at his company, American Media, Inc., demanded that Bezos stop the investigation, threatening that if he didn’t, they would release further damaging information, including embarrassing nudes or other compromising private photos of Bezos and Sanchez. To stop them in their tracks and eliminate the possibility of blackmail, Bezos blew the whole thing up and published the full details.

David Pecker is probably going to rue the day he set off down this road, because he and AMI were involved in the hush-money scheme with Michael Cohen to silence women who had affairs with Donald Trump. Pecker and AMI admitted to buying the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story, which included her claim of a longtime affair with Trump in the months before and after Melania gave birth to their son. Pecker and the National Enquirer promptly buried her story as a favor to Trump, in a practice known as “catch and kill.” But in the course of the criminal investigation of the allegations, U.S. attorneys gave David Pecker immunity for his testimony against Michael Cohen, and AMI a “non-prosecution agreement” that specifically said that if AMI committed any crimes after the signing of the agreement, AMI executives could be prosecuted for past crimes as well.

Bloomberg reports federal prosecutors are now looking at whether the Bezos extortion attempt was a crime or whether it was heavy-handed negotiation. Former U.S. attorney Renato Mariotti went on a Twitter tear about why this is a complicated issue. You can see that thought-provoking thread below, but any way you slice it, this isn’t great news for David Pecker or American Media, Inc. They may have put themselves at great risk of exposure.

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