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April 25, 2019

Lawyer for David Pecker denies extortion, blackmail allegations made by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

February 10, 2019
David Pecker during a public appearance in New York City in 2014. (Marion Curtis/AP)

The lawyer for David Pecker has rejected allegations by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos that the National Enquirer publisher tried to “extort and blackmail” him.

Bezos had claimed in a stunning blog post earlier this week that executives with American Media Inc. threatened to release nude photos of him and mistress Lauren Sanchez unless he put the breaks on a private investigation into how the Enquirer obtained some of his text messages. AMI is the parent company of the Enquirer.

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“It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail,” lawyer Elkan Abramowitz told ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. “What happened was the story was given to the National Enquirer by a reliable source that had given information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well known both to Mr. Bezos and Ms. Sanchez.”

“Was it Michael Sanchez?” Stephanopoulos responded, apparently referring to Lauren Sanchez’s brother.

“I can’t discuss who the source was,” Abramowitz said. “It’s confidential within AMI.”

AMI previously said in a statement that it would look into Bezos’ allegations.

“American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos,” the company said. “Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mr. Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.”

The Daily News reported on Friday that the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan is examining whether emails sent to Bezos by Pecker’s deputies could be a violation of the non-prosecution deal that Pecker and AMI entered into in the Michael Cohen case.

Abramowitz emphasized to ABC News that the negotiations between Bezos and AMI was just part of “journalism” and was not an attempted “takedown” by the White House.

When pressed by Stephanopoulos, the lawyer said that “I’m not permitted to tell you or confirm or deny who the source is. I can tell you it’s not Saudi Arabia, it’s not President Trump, it’s not Roger Stone. I cannot tell you who the source is.”

Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos announced earlier this year that they were getting a divorce.

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