'Absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail': AMI CEO David Pecker's attorney

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," AMI CEO David Pecker's attorney Elkan Abramowitz responds to Jeff Bezos' extortion and blackmail allegations against the National Enquirer.
10:51 | 02/10/19

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Transcript for 'Absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail': AMI CEO David Pecker's attorney
But first, that story that tangles up the world's richest man. America's most famous tabloid, a longtime friend turned witness against president trump, and maybe even the rulers of Saudi Arabia. It began last month when "The national enquirer" published text messages between Jeff bezos and his mistress, Lauren Sanchez. A revelation that bezos who also owns "The Washington post" tried to pre-empt by announcing the end of his marriage. Then late this week, bezos went public again, writing on medium that agents for "The national enquirer," and its parent company, Ami, threatened to release additional text and photos unless bezos said publicly that the story against him was, quote, not politically motivated. Instead of that, he bounced back. He said, of course, I don't want personal photos published, but I won't be participate in their well known practice of political favors, attacks and corruption. Bezos is also investigating why he was a target of "The enquirer." "The Washington post" coverage of Jamal khashoggi's murder by operatives tried to the crown prince. Quote, an Ami leader as advised us that Mr. Pecker was apoplectic about our investigation. For reasons still to be understood, the saw Dee angle seems to still hit a sensitive nerve. They are reviewing the accusations which could jeopardize the immunity deal after being accused of crushing stories about president trump during the campaign. That is some of the background. Here to respond, David pecker's attorney, Mr. Abramowitz. Good morning. Thank you for joining us this morning. Jeff bezos says extortion and blackmail. Lutely is not extortion and not blackmail. What happened was the story was given to "The national erer" by a reliable source and had been given information years prior to the story. It was a source that was well known to both Mr. Bezos and miss Sanchez. Was it Michael Sanchez? I can't discuss who the source was. Just -- it's confidential within Ami so I'm not going to answer who the source was. It was somebody close to both bezos and miss Sanchez. Let me show some of the correspondence that bezos published. He had -- this was a letfrom Ami's lawyer, the deputy counseit lays out two of the conditions he was se one, public acknowledgments for the bezos parties that they have no knowledge that it was politically motivated or by political forces and point three, Ami is not to publish, or distribute or share un-public texts or photos. That seems like a clear offer. They won't release these photos if they get a statement from bezos. The story was already out, and there were -- Not the photos. Not those photos. I think some photos that were in the original story. I think both bezos and Ami had interests in resolving their differences. Bezos didn't want another story written about him or those pictures published. Ami did not want to have the libel against them that this was inspired by the white house, inspired by Saudi Arabia or inspired by "The Washington post." Itothing to do with it. It was a usual story that -- that "The national enquirer" gets from sources. "The national enquirer" believes these photos were newsworthy, ye they are offering not to publish them in return for a thing of value from Jeff bezos. Letting go of the legal viabilities, saying it wasn't politically motivated. Hot not extortion? That is not extortion because all Ami wanted was the truth. Bezos sanchez knew who the source was. Any investigators who was going to investigate this knew who the source was. It was not the white house. It was not Saudi Arabia and the libel that was going out there, slamming Ami was this was all a political hatchet job sponsored by either a foreign nation or somebody politically in this country. That is something that -- and the story was already published. It's a news decision decide how long you can go with the same story so that each side -- it was part of a legitimate negotiation. Each side had something that they want A source close to the -- close to those conversations from here with those conversations says this was a crime, not a negotiation. The source is totally wrong. Olutely not a crime to ask somebody to simply tell the truth. Tell the truth that this was not politically motivated, and we will print no more stories. If you don't say what you want us to say, we're going to publish these photos. That's not -- it's part of a negotiation. Look. It's a news decision to decide whether or how many times you're going to write the same story. The story was already out there. I think people misunderstand that this a post-publication negotiation to resolve any of the outstanding issues. Ami was being blamed -- The clear threat was there was a new story coming. The clear threat from bezos' point of view was we're going to link you to Saudi Arabia and we're going to say you hacked all of these texts. We're going to slander the -- the publicas much as we can. That's why lawyers sit down and lawyers negotiate to try to resolve differences. That's exactly what this was. How is that journalism though? If you believe the photos are newsworthy, how is it journalism to say, we won't publish this? Is it journalism to decide not to print the story three times? The story was out there. There may be a different argument if we were talking about prior to the first publication or hypothetically somebody could say, you give me a million dollars and we won't publish this. That's not what this is. The story was already there. The issue was how much -- how much wasn't printed in the first story. You can make journalistic decisions as to how many times you're going to write the same story. That's not the job of the prosecutors or anybody else to determine. You said the source is someone who has been a reliable source to Ami. Also close to Ms. Sanchez. Gavin de Becker has publicly named Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, as a possible target of the investigation. Michael Sanchez is a vocal supporter of president trump and acquaintance of Roger stone and Carter page. He told -- "The Washington post" reported he was told by multiple people at American media that "The national enquirer" set out to do a, quote, takedown to make happy. Is that true? That's not true. This was a source that had been giving information to "The national enquirer" for seven years, and it was a person that was known to both bezos and Ms. Sanchez, therefore giving his information more credibility and that's exactly what happened. You're not denying that it's Michael Sanchez and Michael Sanchez told "The washin post," he was going to do a takedown to make trump happy. That's what he was told by American media. I'm not going to comment on what Michael Sanchez said. I'm not permitted to tell you or confirm or deny who the source is. I can tell you it is not Saudi Arabia. It's not president trump. It's not Roger stone. But I cannot tell you who the source is. Up on page two of the program, we showed that piece from Jeff bezos, his posts where he said that an Ami leader advised us that he is apoplectic about our investigations for reasons still to be understood. Thudi angle seems to hit a Morely sensitive nerve. Now I want to run through some of the time line here. Back17, David pecker was at the white house with a man named Kacy Grine, who was an adviser to the Saudi family, we have a picture of Mr. Grine there. That's in the oval office back in the summer of 2017. That picture comes from somethinthat Ami pshed in Mah 2018. A hundred-page glossy about the virtues of Saudi Arabia. I mean, printed 200,000 copies and then on basically the same day that the Jeff bezos piece wa published, Ami closed on a $450 million restructuring of its debt. Did any of that money come from Saudi Arabia? Zero. Not a penny? Not a penny. Never has. Ami sought financing from the Saudis, but never obtained any. Doesn't have any Saudi Arabia financing. Why did Ami "The national enquirer" and David pecker publish this hundred-page glossy about Saudi Arabia? That's a journalistic decision that they made. There is nothing illegal about it. It has nothing to do with anything that this investigation is about. Not an attempt -- It was -- it was published in March of 2018. Not an attempt of favor with Saudi Arabia? Not that I'm aware of. It was published for journalistic reasons for publishing it, and they have nothing to do with any of what we're talking about. Do you know it sold at $13.50 a copy? That's a steep price. I don't know. I didn't buy it. I don't know. Ronan farrow and others have come out since the Jeff bezos post with a number of charges about Ami as well. Here's here is Ronan farrow saying, I and at least one other prominent journalist involved in breaking stories about the "The national enquirer" feel that trump said, stop digging. We will ruin your efforts from Ami. Ted bridis said, we were warned explicitly by insiders that they had hired investigators to dig daily beast," and the member of its staff were threatened by Ami. This seems like a practice. I never even heard of any of ose allegations. I am not aware of any attempt by employees of Ami to blackmail or to commit any crime at all. Are you worried at all that these revelations have put the cooperation agreement of Mr. Pecker with the southern district in jeopardy? Absolutely not. We have an agreement with the -- an understanding with the southern district. I can't comment on it. I am not concerned that any of this -- Have you spoken since this came out? I'm not going to comment on any contacts with the southern strict. Another billionaire broughtdown Gawker. Are you worried that Jeff bezos will bring down "The national enquirer"? I can't comment on that. We just want Bez to acknowledge the results of that investigation which will show that politics had nothing to do with this story and it was a typical "National enquirer" story. Mr. Abramowitz, thank you

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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