The National Enquirer paid the brother of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend for private text messages, which the tabloid threatened to expose to the public, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Update 11:00 pm EDT March 19: Michael Sanchez is the brother of Lauren Sanchez and, while investigators had already determined that Michael Sanchez was behind the leaked text messages and racy photos of Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, the Journal is reporting that the Enquirer paid him $200,000 for the information.
Michael Sanchez told the Journal he didn’t want to “dignify” the newspaper’s reporting on the contract between him and American Media, the parent company of the Enquirer, but he called it “old rumors” from anonymous sources.
Both Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez also declined to comment.
Original story: Private investigators looking into how the National Enquirer got private text messages sent between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his mistress have determined his mistress’s brother was the source, according to multiple reports.
An unidentified source told The Associated Press on Monday that the investigation launched by Bezos found that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Bezos’ mistress, former TV anchor Lauren Sanchez, leaked the couple’s messages to the National Enquirer. Michael Sanchez is a supporter of President Donald Trump who also works as his sister’s manager, according to the AP.
Multiple sources also confirmed to The Daily Beast that the investigation found Michael Sanchez to be the source of the leak.
It was not immediately clear how Michael Sanchez got access to the messages.
"The story was given to the National Enquirer by a reliable source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years prior to this story,” attorney Elkan Abramowitz, told ABC News on Sunday. Abramowitz represents David Pecker, the chief executive of American Media LLC, or AMI, the company that publishes the Enquirer.
Abramowitz did not name the Enquirer’s source on Sunday, although he told ABC News, “It was a source that was well-known to both Mr. Bezos and Miss Sanchez.”
Bezos said last week that AMI officials threatened to publish explicit photos of him if declined to stop investigating how the tabloid got his private messages and unless he publicly declared that the National Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated.
Bezos has been a frequent target of Trump’s ire, with the president often accusing him of using his Washington Post newspaper as a lobbying arm for Amazon. Pecker, a longtime friend of the president, in the past has used the Enquirer to buy damaging stories about Trump without publishing them, a tactic known as “catch and kill.”
Prosecutors reached a deal with AMI granting the company immunity in exchange for information in its probe of hush money payments made to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Officials with AMI have denied any wrongdoing, however reports surfaced last week that federal prosecutors were probing whether the company breached its immunity deal in its dealings with Bezos.
Both Bezos and Lauren Sanchez were married to other people during their relationship. In January, Bezos and his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, announced they were divorcing.
Officials continue to investigate.