Private investigators working for Jeff Bezos have concluded that the brother of the Amazon chief executive’s paramour leaked the couple’s intimate text messages to the National Enquirer, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.
The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The findings add to the intrigue surrounding the clash between the pro-Trump tabloid and the world’s richest man. Bezos’ investigators have suggested that the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was driven by dirty politics. Trump has been highly critical of Bezos over his ownership of the Washington Post and Amazon Inc., and the Post’s coverage of the White House.
The brother, Michael Sanchez, is a supporter of President Trump and an acquaintance of Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page. He is also the manager of his sister, Lauren Sanchez, a former Los Angeles TV anchor. The investigators have not said how they believe Michael Sanchez came into possession of his sister’s intimate messages.
Michael Sanchez did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Monday. In a Jan. 31 tweet, he said, without providing evidence, that Bezos’ longtime security consultant, Gavin de Becker, who is leading the private investigation, “spreads fake, unhinged conservative conspiracy theories.”
An attorney for the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
On Sunday, an attorney for the head of AMI said that the information for the story had been provided by a “reliable source” well known to Bezos and Lauren Sanchez. The source had provided information to the company for at least seven years, Elkan Abramowitz, an attorney for AMI Chief Executive David Pecker, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
He was asked if Michael Sanchez was the source and he said: “I’m not permitted to tell you or confirm or deny who the source is.”
But the Daily Beast, citing people inside American Media, reported that Michael Sanchez was the Enquirer’s source.
Bezos ordered the investigation after the Enquirer published an article about the affair last month. The investigators have since turned over the results of their probe to attorney Richard Ben-Veniste for review and possible referral to law enforcement. Ben-Veniste had served as special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.
Bezos has said AMI threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges and publicly declared that the Enquirer’s coverage of him was not politically motivated.
Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether the Enquirer violated a cooperation and non-prosecution agreement that recently spared the tabloid and top executives from charges for payment of hush money to a Playboy model who said she had had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press. The people weren’t authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Asked whether he was aware that AMI was investigating Bezos, Trump said Tuesday: “No. No, I wasn’t.”
Times staff writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report.