Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance told MSNBC today the National Enquirer's publisher, American Media International, had an interesting explanation for the "exchange" with Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, saying it sounded like exactly like blackmail.
Host Stephanie Ruhle played a short clip of AMI lawyer Elkan Abramowitz defending the publication, saying the Enquirer's threats to publish nude selfies made by Mr. Bezos were "absolutely not extortion, not blackmail" because their source was well known to both Mr. Bezos" and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez. That didn't sit well with Vance.
"As far as defenses go, AMI coming out this weekend and saying 'it was just an exchange, we wanted something and they wanted something', that's not much of a defense," she said. "That just pretty much describes every blackmail situation prosecutors have ever looked at, right? Both parties always want something."
Vance added that if prosecutors found that AMI had in fact tried to extort Bezos, they could be subject to any number of penalties.
"Southern District of New York could decide to turn and prosecute them, or they could decide there were other sorts of implications for that, that there would be fines, that there would be other sanctions," she said. "The ramifications of this could run for the relatively minor to the very extreme."
Watch the video below.