Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos — who remains the world’s richest person with an estimated net worth of $133.5 billion, according to Forbes — revealed yesterday that he is the target of apparent “extortion and blackmail” by American Media, the parent company of the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper. Bezos also wrote in a Medium post that he believed the Enquirer coverage of his personal romantic affairs was “politically motivated.”
In January, the tabloid published revelations that Bezos was involved in an extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez, a former Los Angeles local TV news anchor, as CNN reported. Because Bezos was an unusual subject for an exposé by the celebrity-oriented tabloid, “media insiders immediately wondered about a Donald Trump connection, given that (Trump) has repeatedly criticized Amazon as a company and Bezos as an individual,” CNN reported in January.
The CEO of American Media, David Pecker, is a friend and supporter of Trump, and the Enquirer has allegedly carried out previous operations designed to aid Trump. Pecker was granted immunity by prosecutors in August in exchange for his cooperation with investigations into Trump, according to NBC News.
Following the “blackmail” revelations from Bezos on Thursday, speculation around whether the paper was carrying out the investigation of Bezos with Trump’s knowledge, or even at his instigation, grew stronger — especially after a Washington Post reporter stated in an MSNBC interview that Bezos’ own investigations revealed that a “government entity” was behind leaks of the Amazon founder’s private text messages and personal photographs to the Enquirer.
The Washington Post is owned by Bezos and has consistently reported on numerous scandals surrounding Trump, including the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties as well as Trump’s business and personal finances. As a result, Trump has frequently attacked Bezos on Twitter. But since January 13, when Trump posted a Twitter message celebrating the Enquirer exposé of Bezos’ marital troubles and referring to Bezos as “Jeff Bozo.”
But since that Twitter message, Trump has simply gone silent about Bezos on Twitter, as the Trump Twitter Archive shows. In early February, according to Bezos’ Medium post, American Media began its attempts to “blackmail” Bezos.
“Hard to believe Trump never asked his pal Pecker if anything damaging could be found on his nemesis Bezos, given the nature of the Trump-Pecker relationship,” wrote Seth Abramson, author the bestselling book Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America, on his Twitter account.
“POTUS (was) directly involved,” wrote bestselling author and business expert Scott Galloway, whose book The Four focuses on Amazon, on his Twitter account. “POTUS never misses opportunity to mock enemies. Part of his brand/strategy.”
But according to other experts, the Enquirer’s — and allegedly Trump’s — concern to discredit Bezos and stop his investigation into how the paper obtained his private digital communications goes beyond Trump’s personal vendetta over critical Washington Post coverage. In his Medium essay, Bezos said that American Media was especially concerned about “the Saudi angle” — a reference to Post coverage of the Saudi-connected murder of the paper’s columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a murder that may have been ordered by Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, as Inquisitr has reported.
“Talk about opening a Pandora’s box!” wrote journalist Will Bunch on his Twitter account. “The Bezos-AMI affair should call attention to increased hacking wars that have consumed Saudi Arabia, its close ally the UAE and their newfound adversary Qatar, working with various mercenary types from the U.S. and Israel.”
In a meeting at Trump Tower on August 3, 2016, involving Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and emissaries from several Middle Eastern countries, Trump Jr. was told “that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president,” according to the New York Times.
“That this story could involve the Saudis — who we know the Trumps agreed to collude with on August 3, 2016; and who ([special counsel Robert] Mueller appears to believe) illegally funneled money to the Trumps in January 2017 at the very latest; and for whom Trump is now covering up a murder — I mean, wow,” wrote Abramson on Twitter.