WASHINGTON (AP) – Private investigators working for Jeff Bezos have concluded that the Amazon CEO's lover's brother leaked the couple's intimate text messages to the National Enquirer, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Monday.
The person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity.
The findings add to the intrigue surrounding the clash between the pro-Trump tabloid and the richest man in the world. Bezos researchers have suggested that the coverage of their case by the Enquirer was driven by dirty policies. Trump has been very critical of Bezos about his ownership of The Washington Post and Amazon, and The Post's coverage in the White House.
The brother, Michael Sanchez, is a supporter of President Donald Trump and known to Trump allies Roger Stone and Carter Page. He is also the manager of his sister, Lauren Sanchez, a former television host. Investigators have not said how they believe Michael Sánchez took possession of his sister's intimate messages.
Michael Sanchez did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Monday. In a January 31 tweet, he said without evidence that Bezos security consultant Gavin de Becker, who heads the private investigation, "spreads false conservative conspiracy conservative theories."
A lawyer from the tabloid's parent company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
On Sunday, a lawyer for the head of American Media, owner of the Enquirer, said that the information in the story had been provided by a "reliable source" known to Bezos and Lauren Sánchez. The source had provided the company with information for at least seven years, said Elkan Abromowitz, a lawyer for American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker on ABC's "This Week."
They asked him if Sanchez was the source and he said: "I do not have permission to tell you or confirm or deny who the source is."
But the Daily Beast, citing people within American Media, Inc., reported that Sanchez was the researcher's source.
Bezos ordered the investigation after the Enquirer published a story about the matter last month. Since then, investigators have turned over the results of their investigation to lawyer Richard Ben-Veniste for review and possible referral to the police. Ben-Veniste had served as special prosecutor during the Watergate scandal.
Bezos has said that AMI threatened to publish explicit photos of him unless he stopped investigating how the Enquirer obtained his private exchanges and publicly stated that the Enquirer's coverage of him was politically motivated.
Federal prosecutors are also investigating whether the Enquirer violated a cooperative, non-procedural agreement that recently prevented the tabloid and top executives from charging money to a Playboy model who claimed he had an affair with Trump, two people familiar with the matter. He told the AP. The people were not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writers Michael R. Sisak and Jim Mustian in New York contributed to this report.