7. Amazon CEO delivers full monty on Pecker blackmail scheme
In one of the strangest turn of events in the Russia investigation, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, accused David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., which owns the National Enquirer, of extortion.
Due to the Mueller investigation, the public learned that Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump, was involved in a scheme to buy and not publish, known as "catch a kill," stories about Trump's alleged dalliances with a former Playboy bunny and a porn star, ahead of the 2016 election. Trump's "fixer," Michael Cohen made the arrangement. Pecker and AMI were granted immunity in August in exchange for testimony in the Cohen trial.
In a Thursday post for Medium, Bezos revealed alleged emails and other communications from AMI threatening to publish nude selfies and other salacious photos if Bezos didn't publicly defend AMI against accusations it was working to benefit Trump.
Bezos hinted that the feud may also be due to The Washington Post's critical coverage of Saudi Arabia and Trump's dealings with that nation, and the National Enquirer's close ties to Saudi Arabia.
"Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles," Bezos wrote.
Pecker and AMI are now under investigation for blackmail or extortion, which, if found guilty, may be a violation of their plea agreement.
A lawyer for Pecker argued Sunday that AMI's actions were not illegal, but was "journalism."