Speed Reads

Tangled Webs

The National Enquirer lawyer who laid out AMI's 'blackmail' terms for Jeff Bezos used to work for Jeff Bezos

The tabloid-like feud between American Media Inc., publisher of the National Enquirer, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is full of operatically tangled relationships. Most famously and perhaps most consequentially is the long friendship and tabloid-wingman relationship AMI chief David Pecker has with President Trump, a vocal antagonist of Bezos and his companies. Also friendly with Pecker (and Roger Stone) is Michael Sanchez, a pro-Trump Hollywood agent and brother of Lauren Sanchez, whose romantic entanglement with Bezos was exposed by the Enquirer, apparently precipitating the end of Bezos' marriage.

Saudi Arabia — with close ties to Trump and evidently AMI and antipathy toward Bezos' Washington Post — may have played a role in pilfering his text messages and intimate photos to Sanchez, Bezos suggested in Thursday night's post outlining what he describes as AMI's "extortion and blackmail" to get him to drop his investigation into the theft. But there's also a subplot involving Jon Fine, AMI's deputy general counsel, whose emails laying out the terms of AMI's demands were included in Bezos' post. Before he joined AMI last November, Fine spent nearly a decade as an executive at Amazon, working under Bezos from 2006 to 2015, according to his LinkedIn page.

If Bezos' accusations bear out, Fine could now face legal problems, state or federal, or disbarment in New York, Lawrence O'Donnell and legal analyst Joyce Vance said on MSNBC Thursday night. O'Donnell also had on former longtime Enquirer reporter Jerry George and Washington Post reporter Manual Roig-Franzia, who said he hadn't talked to Bezos but had discussed the case with Bezos' security chief, Gavin de Becker. "Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked," Roig-Franzia said. "He thinks it's possible that a government entity might have gotten hold of his text messages," and "the Bezos camp" has "begun to believe" that the Enquirer report "might have been politically motivated." Watch below. Peter Weber