AMI says its shopping National Enquirer over 2016 election scandals

Kenny Grant
April 13, 2019

Pecker is known as a staunch ally of President Donald Trump.

AMI was granted immunity from the U.S. Attorney's Office by the Southern District of NY last December as part of a probe into President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and longtime fixer, Michael Cohen. According to reports, the tabloid allegedly paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 to take the exclusive rights to her claims that she had an extramarital affair with Trump.

Eventually, prosecutors signed a non-prosecution agreement with AMI during the Cohen probe and the company committed that it would provide cooperation in the future and stay out of trouble.

American Media is embroiled in a legal battle with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who accused it of "extortion and blackmail", for carrying an article that highlighted his relationship with Lauren Sanchez, a former Los Angeles news anchor.

Bezos said the tabloid promised not to publish the photos if he stopped his private investigators from trying to find out how the tabloid obtained the texts.

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(National Enquirer via AP) This image shows the front page of the January 28, 2019, edition of the National Enquirer featuring a story about Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' divorce.

Prosecutors have been probing the extortion claim in part to determine whether the actions of the National Enquirer's publisher, American Media, violated a non-prosecution agreement it struck previous year with prosecutors. The Associated Press reported in February that prosecutors were looking into whether the publisher violated terms of the deal, which included a promise not to break any laws in the future.

The hedge fund that controls American Media Inc. has become increasingly "disgusted" by the National Enquirer's reporting practices and AMI is actively looking to sell the tabloid, The Washington Post reported.

In a statement, Pecker said that American Media had shifted its emphasis away from The Enquirer and its other tabloid publications, which also include Star, to its glossy magazines, such as Us Weekly and Men's Journal, and other ventures.

An AMI spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

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