(NEW YORK) — 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.”
Elkan Abramowitz, who represents David Pecker, defended AMI’s CEO in the interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning.
“It absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail,” Abramowitz told “This Week.” Sunday. “AMI did not want to have the libel against them that this was inspired by the White House, by Saudi Arabia, by the Washington Post.”
He insisted several times that the negotiation was part of “journalism.”
Bezos described the claims in a stunning post 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 killed. He also referenced the Enquirer’s close relationship with President Donald Trump, and the Post’s critical coverage of the administration.
Abramowitz pushed back on questions of wrongdoing and repeatedly stated the magazine’s practices were “journalism,” in part because the Enquirer had already written about Bezos’ affair.
“The story was already published,” Pecker’s lawyer said. “Is it journalism not to print a story three times? The story was out there.”
When asked by Stephanopoulos if the Bezos stories were a “takedown” to make Trump happy, Abramowitz replied, “Any investigator knew it was not the White House.”
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.
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