- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2019

Federal prosecutors are reviewing the National Enquirer’s handling of its story about Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos‘ extramarital affair to determine if the company violated an immunity deal, according to multiple reports.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office was provided with information about exchanges between Mr. Bezos and American Media Inc., publisher of the Enquirer, The Associated Press and others reported. Mr. Bezos claimed in a blog post Thursday night that the company tried to extort him by threatening to publish sexually explicit photographs of him.

AMI promised in a deal with prosecutors late last year not to engage in criminal conduct for three years. The agreement was to avoid prosecution over its role in silencing two women who alleged affairs with President Trump before he was elected.

The agreements with the women were negotiated by Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who will soon report to prison to serve a three-year sentence on his guilty plea for campaign-finance violations and other felonies.

The Enquirer originally disclosed Mr. Bezos‘ affair with a woman named Lauren Sanchez, citing steamy text messages between the two.

Mr. Bezos hired investigators to find out how the Enquirer got ahold of his text messages. He said the company then threatened to publish the photographs if he didn’t cease his investigation.

Mr. Bezos‘ team has claimed that the Enquirer’s coverage of him is politically motivated. AMI CEO David Pecker is a longtime friend and supporter of Mr. Trump, while The Washington Post has been a target of the president’s ire.

A former senior editor at the Enquirer, Jerry George, told CNBC Friday that he believes Mr. Pecker used the coverage of Mr. Bezos to make amends with the president after AMI cooperated with federal prosecutors in the Cohen case.

“The Bezos divorce ordinarily wouldn’t be registered on the Enquirer ‘Richter scale’ other than that he is the archenemy of President Trump,” Mr. George said in a “Squawk on the Street” interview. “I think American Media and David Pecker tried to make amends and brought this divorce story to the president as a means of kissing and making up.”

Representatives of AMI told Mr. Bezos that the story of his affair was newsworthy because, as the owner of Amazon, he is the world’s richest man.

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