Jeff Bezos‘ girlfriend has privately acknowledged that she shared some photos and texts from the Amazon founder with several female friends, adding to the mystery of who leaked salacious material to the National Enquirer, according to a source close to the couple.
In addition, the girlfriend, television personality Lauren Sanchez, also had the contents of her computer downloaded onto her assistant’s computer for safekeeping, according to the source.
What’s more, investigators for Bezos are aware that Sanchez shared the photos and texts because, with her cooperation, they were able to trace the material in the cloud, where most computer and phone messages and images are stored.
It could not be determined whether any of the material that Sanchez shared with friends was sexually explicit. But it casts the probe in a new light at a time when Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, is accusing the Enquirer’s parent company of trying to blackmail him over still-unpublished nude photos and intimate texts.
The firm, American Media Inc., owned by President Trump’s friend David Pecker, has insisted that it obtained the Bezos texts and pictures lawfully.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Pecker’s lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz, while saying there was “absolutely” no blackmail or extortion, described the leaker as a man, “somebody close to both Bezos and Miss Sanchez,” who has provided information to the Enquirer for seven years. Abramowitz refused to say whether he was talking about Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother, who has drawn scrutiny in the case.
The Daily Beast quoted “multiple sources inside AMI” as saying that Michael Sanchez provided the Bezos texts to the Enquirer.
Asked for comment, Sanchez told me: “Multiple potential suspects in the leaks were investigated. Of all those possible suspects, I’m the only one who never had access to below-the-belt selfies. So any attempt to implicate me in this is 100 percent false.”
The source said Lauren Sanchez also shared a few innocuous Bezos texts and pictures with her brother, including a shot of the couple posing on a mountaintop, out of a sense of love and pride. Investigators did not ask to examine Michael Sanchez’s computer or phone.
Gavin de Becker, the prominent security consultant who is overseeing the probe for Bezos, declined to comment.
De Becker has interviewed Michael Sanchez as part of the leak probe, and for that reason has dismissed Sanchez’s disparaging comments about him. Bezos has called de Becker “one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know.”
Sanchez himself told Bezos and his sister when the story broke that he would have to be investigated because of his proximity to the couple. He specifically assured them that he is not the leaker.
Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent manager, has tried, with little success, to play a peacemaking role. Days before the Enquirer published the story about Bezos’ affair, the tabloid sent Sanchez a letter — with 44 bullet points — requesting comment.
Michael Sanchez planned to fly to New York to find out what evidence the tabloid had and try to soften the story while pointing out factual errors. He made arrangements to sit down with Dylan Howard, a longtime friend who is the tabloid company’s top news executive. Sanchez kept in communication with the couple and de Becker about his intermediary role and planned a conference call with them once he was briefed on the details of the pending Enquirer story.
But Bezos decided to preempt the story by tweeting about his planned divorce from his wife, McKenzie. At that point, AMI executives refused to meet with Sanchez and soon published the piece.
Still, Michael Sanchez kept trying to broker a cease-fire. He arranged a photo op with Lauren Sanchez as she went to a Santa Monica airport and got on a helicopter, with AMI’s Us Weekly running the “exclusive” pictures under the headline “All Smiles: First Photos Show Jeff Bezos’ Girlfriend Lauren Sanchez Carefree After Scandal.”
But that limited cooperation imploded late last week when Bezos accused AMI of trying to blackmail him, posting a company email suggesting that his nude selfies could be published unless he stopped accusing the Enquirer of a politically motivated hit job.
The behind-the-scenes battle turns on fundamental questions about Bezos’ strategy. Is he a journalistic hero, praised by Bob Woodward, taking a brave stand against terrible tabloid tactics? Or, as Michael Sanchez has argued, has Bezos inflamed the situation and turned one embarrassing episode into a nonstop national soap opera?
Michael Sanchez is a Trump supporter, and his connections to Trump World figures caught up in the Robert Mueller probe have also come under scrutiny in light of the well-known acrimony between the president and Bezos.
Sanchez has twice met Roger Stone, who has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, and Carter Page once through a minor business deal. But he has been in touch with both men about the leaks and whether they might have involved hacking, according to electronic correspondence.
In fact, Michael Sanchez proposed that de Becker, and possibly Bezos himself, sit down with Page in a secure location to discuss the security aspects of the leak. De Becker seemed interested, but no meeting materialized. Sanchez told me that Bezos, his sister, and de Becker knew of every conversation he has had with Page and Stone. The Washington Post reported that both Page and Stone have denied any involvement in the Bezos leak.
The stakes are sky-high for all sides. AMI is under an immunity deal with federal prosecutors after Pecker acknowledged his involvement in hush-money payments to Trump accusers, and any finding of improper behavior now could have legal consequences.
Lauren Sanchez, a former L.A. television host, has been an entertainment reporter, host of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” and runs a film production company. She is married to Patrick Whitesell, co-CEO of powerhouse talent agency William Morris Endeavor.
Bezos is not only facing personal embarrassment, but his divorce could impact his Amazon fortune and perhaps the company itself.
Meghan Markle’s estranged half-brother urges the Duchess of Sussex to reunite the family
“He’s hurt and very confused about what happened to his relationship with his daughter and I think he’s a little more frustrated now because he’s got a grandchild coming up with his favorite person that he worshipped,” Thomas Jr. explained.
He continued: “They had such a tight bond together and now he’s worried about if he’s ever going to get to see his grandchild. It’s a new addition to the family and now would be a perfect opportunity for the family to get back together.”
According to Thomas Jr., the rift between the family members started back when Meghan landed the role as Rachel Zane on the TV series, “Suits.”
“A lot of the distance happened between Meghan when she went to Toronto and her first big break in TV which was ‘Suits’ and it turned out to be a big hit in the USA,” he stated, claiming that he believes the 37-year-old former actress “turned into a little Hollywood starlet” who was “focused on her career so much.”
“I get it,” Thomas Jr. noted. “I get being in that world because once you’re down that path you’ll do anything it takes to be successful so that had a lot to do with being distant from her whole family.”
However, at the same time, he added that the way he sees it is if “Meg wants to talk to me I’m sure she can get a hold of me.”
Meghan and Thomas Sr. have been at odds ever since he missed her royal wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018, and their relationship grew even more acrimonious after he published a letter from her earlier this month begging him to stop speaking to the media and to stop siding with her half-sister, Samantha Markle, who she accused of selling stories to tabloids.
In the same video interview obtained by OK! Magazine (via the Daily Mail), Thomas Jr. also spoke about Samantha, claiming “she was very jealous of Meghan from the very beginning and still to this very day.”
“‘I wouldn’t believe anything that’s written in there [her tell-all book],” he said, revealing that he hasn’t spoken to Samantha — who he reportedly describes as “negative” and “hard to get along with” — in years.
‘[Thomas Sr.] has even said to me ‘I wish Babe [Samantha’s reported nickname] would shut her mouth already and be quiet,'” he added. “My number one message for Meghan would be to reach out to her father,” he added. “It would mean the world to him to be back in her life and be part of his grandchild’s life.”
As for what Meghan was like growing up? Thomas Jr. called her a “happy kid” who was “always smiling.”
“We would have a little Christmas at our house and then go to [Meghan’s mother] Doria’s mom’s house — they had the really tight environment and it was really nice being there,” he recalled. “She was really into Disney movies, like ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Aladdin.’ There was nothing tomboy about her — she was all princess. We would take our dog for a walk and take lunch and play with the dog.”
Fox News’ Jessica Sager contributed to this report.
Khloe Kardashian responds to Tristan Thompson’s alleged infidelity
Khloe Kardashian appeared to be letting emojis do the talking amid reports that Tristan Thompson – her NBA player boyfriend and the father of her child – was unfaithful to her.
After Hollywood Unlocked, an entertainment news website, posted an Instagram video Tuesday about the alleged cheating with Jordyn Woods, who is best friend’s with Kylie Jenner, Kardashian sounded off with a series of talking head emojis in the comment section.
“#PressPlay One of our contributors was at #TristanThompson’s house party and saw what went down! @kyliejenner we need you to address some thangs with @jordynwoods,” the post said. “Anyhow, #JordynWoods stayed at his house until approximately 7am. Who needs to go?! Comment below!”
The organization, apparently noticing Kardashian’s comment, took a screenshot and posted it to their Instagram.
Larsa Pippen and Malika Haqq – both of whom are pals to the star – also reacted to the post, writing “Amen!!!!” and “STRONG FACTS,” respectively, US Weekly reported.
Kardashian and Thompson are no longer together following the alleged infidelity, according to E! News.
Representatives for the pair did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Julius Young and Katherine Lam contributed to this report.
Cook County state’s attorney recuses herself from Jussie Smollett case
The Cook County state’s attorney has recused herself from the investigation surrounding Jussie Smollett, as Chicago police continue to dig into the alleged hate crime attack the actor claims occurred last month.
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself on Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear why. First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats will take over the case as acting state’s attorney, Fox News has learned.
Foxx’s recusal came as the Chicago Police Department rejected a tip the bureau received earlier Tuesday regarding the “Empire” actor’s case.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief communications officer for the department, tweeted that the tip alleging that Smollett was spotted in an elevator in his building with two men who were initially considered suspects was “unfounded as it was not supported by video evidence obtained by detectives.”
Smollett, who is openly gay and black, reported that on Jan. 29, he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant. He claimed that the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him, poured a chemical substance on him, threw a rope around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country!”
Investigators revealed on Friday that two suspects were questioned in connection with the alleged attack, but were released without charges “due to new evidence.”
Chicago police said on Saturday that Smollett was no longer considered a victim in their investigation.
Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, vehemently denied that the attack was a hoax, previously telling the press: “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”
“He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack,” the statement continued. “Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Separately, court documents recently obtained by Fox News reveal that Smollett was convicted for DUI and providing a police officer with false information. It was not immediately clear what information he lied to police about, but it’s related to a vehicular charge. Smollett’s legal team did not deny the arrest.
Fox News’ Mike Tobin and Matt Finn contributed to this report.
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