Prosecutors to meet with Bezos in blackmail case


Federal prosecutors in NY are planning to meet with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about his allegations that the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him with help from Saudi Arabia, a person familiar with the plans said Thursday.

The parent of the supermarket tabloid on Wednesday said that it is exploring a possible sale as part of a "strategic review" of its tabloid business.

During the 2016 election, the company assisted Trump's presidential campaign by paying $150,000 to Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump and then burying the story.

Bezos, the world's richest man, has said the Enquirer threatened to publish explicit photographs of him unless he publicly declared that the tabloid's coverage of him was not politically motivated and stopped investigating how it obtained private texts between Bezos and his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez.

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Schwartz didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In addition to the National Enquirer, American Media said it was also considering selling two other brands, Globe and National Examiner. The Associated Press reported in February that prosecutors were looking into whether the publisher violated terms of the deal, which included a promise not to break any laws in the future.

The Enquirer and Saudi Arabia have denied wrongdoing.

Pecker's connection with President Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen landed AMI in a legal tangle a year ago. "As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details", de Becker wrote in The Daily Beast.

De Becker wrote that while his investigation found that AMI had paid Sanchez's brother, Michael Sanchez, for the information on Bezos, the Saudis were the original source of at least some of the material.

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A spokesman for the publisher has said "American Media does not have, nor have we ever had, any editorial or financial ties to Saudi Arabia". He said Amazon is willing to continue to take risks and learn from its failures, while simultaneously supporting successful areas of its business like its third-party sellers and retail locations.

Amazon remains under fire for what critics say are harsh working conditions in the company's warehouses.

Pecker is known as a staunch ally of President Donald Trump.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's former minister for foreign affairs, told CBS News that the government had "nothing to do with" the matter.

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According to CNN, Bezos could meet with federal officials as soon as this week to hand over his personal electronic devices for examination.