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Thread: Bezos Exposes Pecker

  1. #1
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    Default Bezos Exposes Pecker

    Many of us have seen the now-famous headline, but no thread yet on the subject here on ToL. Here's a fairly thorough story from Slate that covers the implications of the moves by both Pecker and Bezos. (I love headlines that are also wicked puns.)


    The National Enquirer’s Alleged Threats Against Jeff Bezos Have Put It in Enormous Legal Jeopardy

    Here are all the laws American Media Inc. may have broken in going after the Amazon CEO.

    By FRANK BOWMAN
    FEB 08, 2019


    Last year, we learned that American Media Inc., the company that publishes the National Enquirer, and its CEO, David Pecker, acted as a shield protecting Donald Trump against disclosure of his extramarital activities. In a nonprosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, AMI admitted that Pecker met with Michael Cohen in August 2015 and offered to help suppress stories about Trump’s infidelity. Thereafter, AMI was involved in the hush money payments to both Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, in the latter case using the “catch and kill” technique of buying the rights to her story and then burying it.

    It now appears that the media firm may also have acted as a sword slashing at Trump’s enemies. The company recently targeted Jeff Bezos—world’s richest man, CEO of Amazon, owner of the Washington Post, and frequent target of Trump’s ire—by exposing his extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez. Bezos responded by launching a private investigation of AMI’s methods and possible political motivations. (Did they come after him at the behest of Trump or perhaps Trump family pals, the Saudis?) Then, in an effort both brazen and bizarre, AMI sought to quash Bezos’ investigation by threatening to publish a series of intimate photos of the CEO and Sanchez.

    Bezos refused to yield. Instead, he published a blog post that included emails from two AMI officials, chief content officer Dylan Howard and deputy general counsel Jon Fine, in which, incredibly, they described the photos in lurid detail and expressly threatened publication unless Bezos both released any legal claims he might have against AMI and issued a public statement that he had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage [of Bezos’ affair] was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

    Bloomberg is reporting that federal prosecutors have begun looking into whether AMI’s behavior with respect to Bezos may constitute a violation of the aforementioned nonprosecution agreement. There are a number of legal questions at play here. Did AMI’s threats amount to a crime? If so, who could be prosecuted? Why was AMI so desperate to silence allegations that it was acting politically? How, if at all, does this squalid business fit into the large picture of Trump scandals and investigations?

    The fact that AMI would take the huge risk of trying to blackmail the richest man on the planet is superficially baffling.

    First, AMI’s emails pretty plainly satisfy the elements of federal extortion, 18 U.S.C. §875(d), which prohibits transmitting a communication in interstate commerce “containing any threat to injure the … reputation of the addressee” in order to extort “money or other thing of value.” The emails are in interstate commerce. The threat was to Bezos’ reputation. AMI might argue that it wasn’t demanding a “thing of value,” but under federal law, that’s almost certainly wrong.

    The term thing of value extends to intangibles and even to things without any transferrable monetary worth, like cessation of a criminal prosecution, continuation of a sexual relationship, or even an apology. The demand that Bezos refrain from attributing political motive to AMI could itself be a “thing of value.” But even if that were not the case, a release of potential legal claims plainly is a thing of economic value. So it appears that AMI, as a corporate entity; Fine, its lawyer; and anyone within the corporation who approved Fine’s demands could potentially be charged with felony extortion.

    Second, by its terms, AMI’s nonprosecution agreement with the Southern District of New York remains effective only so long as AMI commits no further crimes. An attempt to extort Bezos would almost certainly violate the agreement.

    At one level, that doesn’t matter very much. The only entity the SDNY promised not to prosecute was AMI, the company, and only for election-law violations committed in 2016. The agreement placed no limitation on prosecutions of individual persons for anything (including the 2016 hush money payments), and it never limited the government from prosecuting AMI or anyone else for future crimes. So regardless of the terms of the nonprosecution agreement, it does not bar prosecution of AMI and its employees for the alleged Bezos extortion.

    The behavior Bezos describes in his blog post does, though, create a mare’s-nest of issues regarding the portions of the nonprosecution agreement in which AMI promised to cooperate fully with the government.
    The agreement says that all information obtained during such cooperation can be used “for any purpose,” which presumably includes prosecution of AMI or its employees if the new charge were not related to 2016 election crimes. However, there would certainly have been at least an implicit understanding that the SDNY would not prosecute the company or its people based on material divulged during honest cooperation. Moreover, so long as the agreement remained in effect, there might be legal obstacles to using such disclosures, including Federal Rule of Evidence 410, relating to statements made in plea discussions.

    But under the terms of the agreement, commission of a new crime by AMI allows the government to use anything learned during AMI’s cooperation to prosecute the corporation, whether for hush money campaign finance violations or anything else. The question of whether such material could be used to prosecute corporate officers like Pecker or lower-ranking employees who talked to prosecutors as part of the cooperation effort is trickier and would depend largely on the particular understanding between each officer or employee and the government.

    If this sounds complicated, it is. And that’s one of the primary takeaways of the Bezos revelation: The Southern District of New York originally made the calculation that the information AMI could provide was of more value to the public interest than pursuing a legally tricky prosecution. Now they have to re-evaluate. Not only is extortion a serious crime, but if the SDNY wants to preserve its own credibility, it must respond sternly to a flagrant violation of a nonprosecution agreement that some might argue was too generous in the first place. If SDNY does void the agreement and start prosecuting the company and its people, that would at the very least complicate ongoing efforts to secure information and testimony from AMI personnel about other crimes, possibly including other instances in which the company helped protect Trump.

    The fact that AMI would take the huge risk of trying to blackmail the richest man on the planet to stop his investigation of its reporting and possible political motives is superficially baffling. Those actions endangered AMI’s nonprosecution agreement, not to speak of opening the company to new, more serious charges. Moreover, the firm tried to intimidate a guy who could buy AMI with the change under his couch, andtried to do so after revealing Bezos’ affair and his colorful texts, thus squandering whatever leverage they might have enjoyed from the photos.

    That said, the National Enquirer’s business model depends on maintaining its image as an independent member of the family of legitimate media outlets. Among other advantages, that posture makes it easier to defend, on First Amendment grounds, the libel suits its brand of journalism is apt to spawn. In the Trump hush money affair, AMI was already exposed as a political actor paying to suppress, not publish, news on behalf of a preferred candidate—hardly a constitutionally protected journalistic activity. If Bezos could show that its publication activities were also driven by partisan affiliation, or worse, money or influence from a murderous foreign government like Saudi Arabia, the damage would be multiplied. Perhaps a chance to prevent such revelations was thought worth the risk.

    Finally, it’s too early to know exactly how this arrestingly vulgar scandal fits in the never-ending metastasis of Trump investigations. The Daily Beast reported last week that Bezos’ investigators have looked into the Amazon CEO’s mistress’ brother, Michael Sanchez, who is both a vocal Trump supporter and sometime business associate of Trump-world denizens Roger Stone and Carter Page. In an interview with the Washington Post, Michael Sanchez denied having anything to do with the National Enquirer’s reporting and alleged that “he was told by multiple people at American Media, the Enquirer’s parent company, that the Enquirer set out to do ‘a takedown to make Trump happy.’ ” AMI, for its part, responded by saying that it “emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. End of speculation—and story.” At this point, all we can say for certain is that this is not the end of the story, for AMI and possibly for Donald Trump.

    https://slate.com/news-and-politics/...blackmail.html

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    National Enquirer parent company owner David Pecker's lawyer denies Bezos allegations

    "It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail," Abramowitz told "This Week."By

    Soo Youn

    Feb 10, 2019

    The attorney for the CEO of American Media, Inc., denied Jeff Bezos' allegations that the parent company of the National Enquirer attempted to extort and blackmail the
    Amazon CEO with compromising photographs
    ,the lawyer said in an exclusive interview on "This Week."

    "It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail," Abramowitz told "This Week" on Sunday. "The story was given to The National Enquirer by a reliable source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story. It was a source that was well known to both Mr. Bezos and Miss [Lauren] Sanchez."

    Last month, the Enquirer broke the story of an extramarital affair between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, and published intimate texts between the couple. Both Sanchez and Bezos were married to other people during their relationship. This week, The Daily Beast
    published a story naming Michael Sanchez, Lauren Sanchez's brother, and a longtime associate of members of Trump's inner circle including Roger Stone and Carter Page, as the Enquirer's source.

    When asked directly by Stephanopoulos if the Enquirer's source was Michael Sanchez, Abramowitz replied, "I can't discuss who the source was. It's confidential within AMI, so I'm not going to answer who the source was. It was somebody close to both Bezos and Miss Sanchez."

    Abramowitz was responding to jaw-dropping claims by Bezos published on
    Medium Thursday. The world's richest man called his ownership of The Washington Post a "complexifier," because of the paper's investigation into the death of its journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of the current Saudi regime before he was murdered. He also referenced the Enquirer's close relationship with Trump, and the Post's critical coverage of the administration.

    Pecker's lawyer pushed back on questions of wrongdoing and repeatedly stated the magazine's practices were "journalism" rather than extortion, because the Enquirer had already written about Bezos' affair, and claimed that the negotiations over publishing further stories with compromising photos is a normal journalistic practice

    "The story was already published," Pecker's lawyer said. "Is it journalism not to print a story three times? The story was out there."

    He continued, "I think both Bezos and AMI had interests in resolving their differences. Bezos didn’t want another story written about him or those pictures published, AMI did not want to have the libel against them that this was inspired by the White House, inspired by Saudi Arabia or inspired by The Washington Post. It had nothing to do with it. It was a usual story that -- that The National Enquirer gets from reliable sources."

    When asked by Stephanopoulos about a Washington Post report that Michael Sanchez was told by individuals at American Media that the Bezos stories were a "takedown" to make President
    Donald Trump happy, Abramowitz replied, “It’s not true.”

    Asked again if their source was Sanchez, Abramowitz replied, "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."

    In interviews with the
    Washington Post, Michael Sanchez firmly denied playing any role in the revelation of his sister’s affair. He told the paper he wanted “to clear my name by telling the truth.”

    Bezos had also claimed that AMI was trying to curry favor with Saudi Arabia, and that the tabloid's executives were "apoplectic" and "particularly sensitive" about any links to the kingdom. According to
    The Associated Press, the company produced a 97-page magazine profiling Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that appeared on U.S. newsstands just before the prince's visit to the U.S. in March 2018, which seems unusual for the brand, which does not often cover Middle East affairs. That issue had no advertisements, so would likely not have made much money.

    In the long Medium post, in which Bezos included unredacted email correspondence between AMI executives and his team, the
    Amazon mogul suggested that the Enquirer may have published the story of his affair with Sanchez to curry favor with the White House and Trump because of The Post's aggressive coverage of both the administration and Saudi Arabia.

    Bezos added that, "rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten."

    His post revealed the behind-the-scenes back and forth detailing the Enquirer's offer: to refrain from publishing further intimate photos shared by the couple, in exchange for Bezos calling off his own investigation into how the Enquirer got the photos and messages in the first place, while also publicly denying that their publication had any political motive. It was this offer Bezos referred to as "blackmail" and "extortion."

    (MORE: Prosecutors reveal plea deal with National Enquirer publisher AMI involved in former Trump lawyer hush money payment)


    After Abramowitz's interview, Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law professor emeritus and author of "The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump," argued that the Enquirer's actions were protected by the First Amendment.

    "Hardball threats by journalists are fairly common today and particularly by journalists like The National Enquirer. You don’t want to put the National Enquirer out of business," Dershowitz said. "That would not be good day for the First Amendment.”

    In January, the billionaire CEO and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, announced that they were divorcing. In a statement released on
    Twitter, they said the decision comes "after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation."

    AMI defended its actions in a statement Friday but said it would investigate Bezos' claims.

    "American Media believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos," the company said in a statement. “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."

    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reviewing the allegations, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News on Friday.

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/ami-...ry?id=60964546




  3. #3
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    Lets see, so if AMI did it, "laws might have been broken" but when Bezos did it, all is good.

    Got it, you mean just like Obama and Trump.

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    Simple question. Who really cares if another Libtard is exposed as a perv? He will get a pass from the MSM just like all their other buddies have.

    As long as Bezos keeps attacking Trump via the Wasgington Post, he could be a card carrying member of NAMBLA and the Libs would still turn a blind eye to his antics. They have with all the perverts in Hollyweird.
    "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here." Captain John Parker, to his Minute Men on Lexington Green, April 19 , 1775.

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    Green Man,
    The fact that AMI would take the huge risk of trying to blackmail the richest man on the planet to stop his investigation of its reporting and possible political motives is superficially baffling.
    Bezos is soon to have his fortune halved and fall out of the world's richest man club? Slate's reporting is obviously biased. It is a war out here, you know. Not baffling at all.

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    Is there a downside to being worth only $66 Billion?

    I don't think that halving of his fortune will affect his lifestyle all that much.

    Personally, I've never felt the urge to send a d**k-pick to anyone. Weiner did it to an underage girl; that's a crime. He's in jail now. Bezos did it with his girlfriend; that's bad judgement.

    Bezos seems to feel that having his bad judgement exposed is way better than letting Pecker get away with extortion.

    I can't believe they put their extortion attempt in writing. Amateurs!

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    You'd know
    They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
    "You think a wall as solid as the earth separates civilisation from barbarism. I tell you the division is a sheet of glass."
    John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir of Enfield (1875-1940): Author and Diplomat

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenno View Post
    You'd know
    Know what?

    I'm worth less that $66 Billion? You could guess that!

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