We have been following the seedy legacy of American Media CEO David Pecker and his National Enquirer tabloid. Pecker is a cooperating witness with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after using his publication to pay off a former Playmate model who reportedly had an affair with President Donald Trump. Pecker and the newspaper previously denied the arrangement to help Trump by buying and killing the story of Karen McDougal. AMI was also recently implicated in an effort to effectively blackmail Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the threat to release embarrassing photos. Bezos suggested that AMI was acting at the behest of Saudi figures upset with the Washington Post investigation of Saudi influence. Now, the Wall Street Journal has disclosed a letter confirming that AMI considered filing papers as a Saudi agent. The letter would seem to reinforce the AMI-Saudi connection referenced by Bezos.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that AMI wrote to the Justice Department to ask if it believed that the company needed to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The redacted letter is from DOJ’s Foreign Agents Registration Act unit and references a magazine printed by the company that heaped praise on Prince Mohammad Bin Salman before his visit to Washington in March 2018. The Crown Prince is widely believed responsible for the gruesome murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The fawning publication titled “The New Kingdom” reflected what a close relationship between AMI and the Saudis that has led to considerable speculation over the influence of the Saudis. AMI hired an advisor to the Saudi government to help write the article. That influence has been denied by both parties. However, the letter says that the publication was written to “coincide” with the visit and that AMI believed that its ties might require it to register as a Saudi agent. The DOJ ultimately concluded that it did not.
It is a measure of the dubious ethics and practices of both AMI and Pecker that it would even have to consider registering as a foreign agent. It then appears to have moved from pandering to the Kingdom to virtually extorting Bezos.
Now “Enquiring minds want to know” how Mueller can effectively immunize Pecker as a cooperating witness while AMI is allegedly blackmailing Bezos while hiding its dubious association with the Saudi Kingdom.
For its part, the Saudis have denied a connection to the AMI threats. Of course, the Saudis are also still denying facts in the Khashoggi murder but, if you cannot believe the Saudi Kingdom, who can you believe?