Michael Sanchez insists he didn't leak Jeff Bezos' racy selfies, but he keeps refusing to answer a key question
- The accusation that Jeff Bezos' intimate texts to former TV host Lauren Sanchez were leaked to the National Enquirer by Sanchez's brother, Michael Sanchez, has been widely reported.
- CNN, The Daily Beast, and the Associated Press have all cited sources this week who believe Sanchez leaked information about the relationship.
- Business Insider has been in regular contact with Sanchez for seven days. He has consistently declined to comment about the allegations he passed the texts to the Enquirer.
- In a new statement on Thursday, Sanchez said he did not have access to the photos and that "it is impossible for me to have provided Jeff Bezos' penis photos to The National Enquirer."
- But he keeps refusing to answer a key question about whether he sent the Enquirer a series of intimate written messages, in which Bezos expressed his desire for Lauren Sanchez.
Like a sweeping soap opera, the saga of Jeff Bezos' love life has got it all. It's a novella of sex, money, and power, with a good measure of political intrigue thrown in. And like all good stories, there's a villain.
In the case of Bezos, the villain is cast as the leaker. The source that shared the Amazon CEO's intimate text messages to former TV host Lauren Sanchez with the National Enquirer.In a Medium blog that lit up the internet like a thunderbolt last week, Bezos threw out a bunch of theories about possible political motivations, while there has been plenty of speculation that a government entity may have got hold of his private messages.
Behind the scenes, Bezos' interrogator-in-chief, Gavin de Becker, reportedly honed in one individual: Sanchez's brother, Michael Sanchez. Media sources are reporting that he is now the number one suspect as being the source of Bezos leaked missives.
Citing two sources, CNN reported on Wednesday that Sanchez "was the person who tipped off the National Enquirer" about his sister's romance with Bezos. CNN did not go as far as saying he leaked the messages.
"Multiple" people at the Enquirer's publisher, American Media Inc (AMI), told the Beast that it was Sanchez, though AMI declined to comment when asked by Business Insider.
De Becker also declined to comment. He told the Beast on Sunday that his investigation into "who initially provided texts" to the Enquirer is now complete. "We have turned our conclusions over to our attorneys for referral to law enforcement," he said.And there are other pieces in the puzzle.
While AMI's official position is protecting its source, the company's attorney Elkan Abramowitz did drop some hints about the identity of the leaker during an interview with ABC News over the weekend.
Abramowitz said it was "a reliable source that had been giving information to the National Enquirer for seven years" and that the person was "well known to both Mr Bezos and Miss Sanchez." He also said the source was male.
Three days after Abramowitz's comments, the Beast reported that Sanchez has passed information to the Enquirer about his Hollywood clients for years, and has acknowledged being friends with Dylan Howard, AMI's chief content officer.
Sanchez has said himself in an email he sent to several publications, including Business Insider, that he talked to AMI about softening its original Bezos scoop.
Sanchez says he did not have access to intimate Bezos pictures
Business Insider has been in regular contact with Sanchez for seven days. He has consistently declined to comment on-the-record about the allegations that he passed Bezos' messages to the Enquirer.
Instead, he has sent often lengthy emails seeking to deflect attention on to other elements of the saga, most notably to sling mud at de Becker in an apparent attempt to discredit his investigation.
On Thursday, Sanchez sent Business Insider a denial, in which he focused on the intimate photos Bezos sent to Lauren Sanchez, including what Howard referred to as a "below the belt selfie" or "d*ck pick."
The Enquirer did not publish these images. It did, however, publish a series of intimate written messages, in which Bezos expressed his desire for Lauren Sanchez. "I love you, alive girl. I will show you with my body, and my lips and my eyes, very soon," Bezos allegedly wrote in one text.
Business Insider asked Sanchez three times whether he had anything to do with leaking these written messages. He declined to answer, dwelling solely on the photos.
Sanchez told BI that de Becker's investigation had proved he could not possibly have gained access to the photos. Sanchez did not provide support for or explain how de Becker's investigation had "proved" this.
He also referred to de Becker's investigation as "Amazon investigators," although in his blog post last week, Bezos said he employed de Becker, and made no reference to Amazon footing the bill.
In an email, Sanchez said: "As the 'Amazon investigators' proved, I was never sent the numerous penis photos Jeff Bezos sent my sister Lauren. And I never had access to the penis photos. Therefore it is impossible for me to have provided Jeff Bezos' penis photos to The National Enquirer."
"I'm not saying I didn't do something," he later told Vanity Fair. "Until I go under oath, what I can tell you now is that ever since April 20, when I met Jeff, my only goal has been to protect Jeff and Lauren."
Sanchez went on to dismiss Bezos' linking of the leaks to Donald Trump - for whom Sanchez has previously expressed support - and Saudi Arabia. He speculated that the saga could be subject to a number of future investigations."Now, it's time to look at the people who were sent the penis photos, and those who had access to the photos. Jeff Bezos' penis photos are the heart of this scandal," he said.
"Following Jeff's baseless accusations that President Trump and the King of Saudi Arabia are somehow involved in his crazy conspiracy theory, his penis photos are key to the extortion investigations underway, as well as the potential investigations by the SEC, DOJ, Amazon shareholders, Washington Post, etc., which are now likely."
Bezos' own investigation has switched focused from the leaker to AMI, which could mean some of the political intrigue referenced by the Amazon CEO is explored in more detail, such as the Enquirer's links to Trump.
"Our investigation into what the National Enquirer and [publisher] AMI did after they received the initial texts - that investigation is ongoing," de Becker told the Beast.
AMI has repeatedly denied political motivations for the story. "American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise. End of speculation - and story," it said last week.