Why you should care

Because what’s under this log could be far more disturbing than some sexts.

The Donald Dossier: Cutting Through This Week’s Noisy News The Donald Dossier: Cutting Through This Week’s Noisy News With What You Need to Know

The feud between the world’s richest man and the world’s most powerful one is getting ugly.

In the middle stands the aptly named David Pecker and his tabloid: the National Enquirer, a crucial player in the entire Donald Trump story arc. Pecker and Trump are longtime pals, and the tabloid duly pumped up his presidential bid — while disparaging Hillary Clinton. The promotion went beyond what appeared in the paper. According to its own admissions in court, Enquirer parent American Media Company, Inc. paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 in order to keep her from talking publicly about her affair with Trump — in violation of campaign finance law.

More recently, the Enquirer set its sights on Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and owner of the Washington Post who is worth roughly $137 billion … for now. That sum is in jeopardy thanks in part to the Enquirer.

The tabloid caught Bezos in an affair and published intimate text messages between the mogul and his mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sánchez. Shortly before the story dropped, Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie, announced they were divorcing — and MacKenzie is likely entitled to a good chunk of the aforementioned wealth.

 

Bezos, naturally, wanted to find out how the newspaper got hold of his texts. And this is where the story gets a lot more twisted. In a remarkable 2,000-word post in Medium on Thursday, Bezos revealed how the Enquirer attempted to extort him by threatening to release a “d*ck pic,” among other embarrassing photos Bezos had sent Sánchez, unless Bezos publicly said his investigation found “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AM’s coverage was politically motivated.” This is important: The Enquirer didn’t want money. It wanted Bezos to call off his investigative dogs — led by security consultant Gavin de Becker — and throw people off the scent of politics. That’s not something you do when no politics are involved.

But whose politics? Bezos raises the Saudis, who were no fans of his newspaper’s coverage of the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and are tight with Pecker as well. But Trump is the figure lording over all this, given his longstanding distaste for the Post’s coverage, which he frequently personalizes with Bezos — from saying the U.S. Postal Service should charge Amazon more to cheering the exposure of Bezos’ affair.

 

Roger Stone is involved here because of course he is. De Becker is reportedly looking into Michael Sánchez, Lauren’s brother, who is a business associate of Stone, the longtime Trump ally and dirty trickster recently arrested and charged with lying to Congress. Among the possibilities that Sanchez and de Becker discussed, according to the Post: whether a government entity could have obtained the texts, be it the National Security Agency or a foreign power.

The notion of Trump enlisting the NSA to spy on a political foe is far-fetched, not least because he and his intelligence agencies haven’t gotten along so well — with Trump disparaging the “deep state” and dismissing their findings on Russian election interference and North Korea’s nuclear program. But some friendly outside help? A wink and a nod from the White House? There’s no telling where the bread crumbs from Enquirer headquarters lead, whether it’s America’s version of the U.K. phone hacking scandal or a political crisis. We do know it’s far more than a tabloid scandal. 

“I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” Bezos wrote. Expect prosecutors and Congress to do the same.

 

 

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