Jeff Bezos alleged Thursday that "top people" at the National Enquirer tried to blackmail him by threatening to publish nude photos unless the Amazon chief ended an investigation into how the publication obtained text messages between him and his girlfriend.
In a highly personal blog post, Bezos said the publication this week threatened to publish intimate photos of him and Lauren Sanchez, a former entertainment TV host with whom Bezos was linked romantically during his marriage. Bezos' post includes email exchanges that he said prove an extortion plot against him.
"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," Bezos said in the post, which includes emails allegedly from National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc.
On Friday morning, American Media said in a statement that it will investigate Bezos' claims.
"Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary," the statement said.
In the emails, sent to an attorney for a Bezos security consultant, an AMI executive threatened to publish the photos unless Bezos made false statements that AMI was never "politically motivated or influenced by political forces," according to the blog post.
The Amazon's CEO notes that David Pecker, CEO of American Media, recently struck an immunity deal with the Justice Department to reveal President Donald Trump's role in hush-money agreements with women ahead of the 2016 US election.
AMI admitted in December to "working in concert" with the Trump campaign to pay off a woman who accused Trump of having an affair with her in order to quash the story.
Last month, the National Enquirer was the first to print details of Bezos' affair with Sanchez, which led to theto MacKenzie Bezos.
According to one email, the photos include "a naked selfie [of Bezos] in a bathroom – while wearing a wedding ring" and a "glimpse" of Sanchez's "nether region," among others.
"Well, that [email] got my attention. But not in the way they likely hoped. Any personal embarrassment AMI could cause me takes a back seat because there's a much more important matter involved here. If in my position I can't stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?" Bezos said.
The blog post comes amid ongoing tension between Bezos and Trump, with the president widely seen as targeting Amazon because Bezos also owns The Washington Post, which has reported critically on the president. In April 2018, Trump, after weeks of accusing Amazon of not paying its fair share of postage.
The blog post comes as questions are already swirling about how. If reports that he has no prenuptial agreement are true, his wife may end up with half his fortune and half his ownership in Amazon. Potential blackmail from the same publication that first reported on Bezos' affair adds a new layer of scandal and creates more problems for Bezos.
First published Feb. 7 at 3:50 p.m. PT
Update, Feb. 7 at 5:58 p.m. PT and Feb. 8 at 6:25 a.m.PT: Adds context and AMI statement.
Correction, Feb. 7 at 4:35 p.m. PT: Clarifies that AMI's emails weren't to Bezos directly.
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