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When Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, accused The National Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., of “extortion and blackmail,” he invoked some of the more confusing elements of American law.
The strange thing about extortion and blackmail is that at least part of the conduct may be legal. That means figuring out what makes either of them a crime can be difficult.
Mr. Bezos claimed in a blog post that American Media threatened to publish photographs, including a “below the belt selfie,” unless he publicly stated that The Enquirer’s reporting on his affair with Lauren Sanchez was not “politically motivated or influenced by political forces.” American Media has asserted that it “acted lawfully” in its reporting on Mr. Bezos’ affair, although it also said it would investigate his claims.
Was the threat to publish the photos extortion or blackmail? Establishing that requires working out if hardball tactics crossed the line into crime.
Blackmail is a strange offense because it involves two acts which, if undertaken separately, are legal. If The National Enquirer simply published the photos, it would not be blackmail. Nor would asking Mr. Bezos to make the statement about its motivations for investigating him be considered wrongful, even if it were untruthful.
But the combination of a threat to publish with the demand for action could turn two legal acts into a crime.
The federal blackmail statute might not classify Mr. Bezos’ case as blackmail. Proving a violation requires that the threat involve disclosure of a legal violation by the victim, and it does not appear that publishing intimate photos and communications involves any potential legal violation. Nor was there a demand for money from Mr. Bezos. Whether the statement requested from him constitutes a “valuable thing” may also be open to question.
That may not absolve American Media if state prosecutors pursue a criminal case. Some state laws are much broader than the federal statute. Under the blackmail statute in the District of Columbia, where The Washington Post, which is owned by Mr. Bezos, was investigating the motivations of The National Enquirer, it is a crime “to expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule” and “to impair the reputation of any person.”
The other crime Mr. Bezos accused The National Enquirer of committing is extortion. According to one part of the federal statute, to prove this crime, the government must establish that a threat was wrongful, not just harmful to the victim’s reputation.
In United States v. Jackson, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan overturned in 1999 the convictions of defendants who tried to make Bill Cosby pay them million to keep quiet about the fact that he had an out-of-wedlock child. The court stated that a threat was “inherently wrongful” if the party delivering it sought something via extortion that it would not receive otherwise.
The question is whether a publication like The National Enquirer, which is protected by the First Amendment, engages in extortion if it tells subjects that it plans to expose embarrassing information about them unless they make a public statement. Most extortion prosecutions involve a demand for money, not an announcement about the purity of one’s motives, so whether that is enough to show a violation is an open question.
A provision of the deferred prosecution agreement that American Media reached with federal prosecutors in Manhattan for campaign finance violations during the 2016 presidential election states that the company “shall commit no crimes whatsoever” during its term. Typically, such provisions cover only federal crimes, but the breadth of this one means that state offenses could result in the agreement being pulled and charges reinstated, along with new charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors were investigating Mr. Bezos’ claim that The National Enquirer sought to extort or blackmail him. The challenge for American Media will be to show that its conduct was simply the kind of aggressive reporting that media outlets pursue, especially when it involves a person of public interest like Mr. Bezos, and did not cross over into a criminal violation.
Ultimately, the Justice Department may be reluctant to reinstate charges against the company. It could avoid that by extending the deferred prosecution agreement and instituting closer oversight of how The National Enquirer deals with the subjects of its reporting. That may be enough for American Media to avoid facing new federal criminal charges.
Whether that would stop a state prosecutor from pursuing a case against The National Enquirer is an open question.
八仙过海玄机图2016【事】【实】【证】【明】，【青】【虚】【尊】【主】【的】【担】【忧】【是】【没】【错】【的】，【沐】【紫】【幽】【看】【到】【了】【这】【地】【牢】【的】【情】【景】【后】【果】【然】【大】【怒】，【她】【指】【了】【指】【不】【远】【处】【的】【一】【个】【钉】【板】，“【你】【们】【对】【它】【用】【过】【这】【个】？” 【青】【虚】【尊】【主】【身】【子】【缩】【了】【缩】，【咽】【了】【咽】【唾】【沫】，【虽】【想】【否】【认】，【可】【却】【不】【敢】，【只】【能】【硬】【着】【头】【皮】【的】【点】【头】【道】，“【是】……” 【那】【钉】【板】【并】【不】【大】，【木】【板】【上】【大】【概】【有】【三】【排】【三】【列】【的】【铁】【钉】【子】，【每】【一】【根】【上】【都】【有】【血】【迹】，【沐】
“【醒】【了】。”【是】【个】【很】【慈】【祥】【和】【善】【的】【老】【人】。 【时】【一】【睁】【开】【了】【眼】【睛】，【粗】【略】【判】【断】【了】【一】【下】【自】【己】【所】【在】【的】【环】【境】，【既】【不】【是】【在】【酒】【店】，【也】【不】【是】【在】【医】【院】，【往】【上】【坐】【了】【坐】，【向】【老】【人】【问】【道】：“【这】【是】【哪】【里】？” “【我】【家】。”【老】【人】【摸】【了】【摸】【她】【的】【额】【头】，【正】【常】【温】【度】，【给】【她】【垫】【了】【一】【个】【枕】【头】【在】【身】【后】。 “【俞】【安】【期】【送】【我】【过】【来】【的】？” 【老】【人】【点】【了】【点】【头】，【注】【视】【着】【时】【一】【的】【神】
【孟】【加】【拉】【说】【完】，【猛】【地】【抽】【出】***【首】，【连】【毒】【都】【不】【消】，【就】【打】【算】【去】【将】【留】【在】【手】【臂】【中】【的】【子】【弹】【挖】【出】【来】。 “【瞎】【胡】【闹】，【没】【有】【专】【业】【的】【医】【疗】【设】【备】【和】【专】【业】【医】【疗】【人】【才】，【你】【这】【么】【做】，【连】【血】【都】【止】【不】【住】！ 【十】【分】【钟】【都】【不】【要】，【你】【就】【会】【血】【液】【流】【尽】【而】【亡】，【赶】【紧】【跟】【我】【一】【起】【先】【到】【联】【络】【处】，【我】【们】【问】【问】【有】【没】【有】【专】【业】【的】【医】【生】。”【女】【教】【官】【大】【吼】【道】。 【目】【前】【只】【能】【先】【这】【样】【了】，
【他】【说】【着】【风】【轻】【云】【淡】，【木】【兮】【却】【是】【瞪】【大】【了】【眼】【睛】。 “【什】【么】？” 【秦】【淮】【揉】【了】【揉】【她】【的】【眉】：“【我】【回】【来】【陪】【你】【和】【孩】【子】【不】【好】【吗】？” “【可】【是】……” “【其】【实】【回】【来】【这】【件】【事】，【我】【早】【就】【做】【了】【打】【算】，【外】【公】【那】【边】【年】【纪】【也】【大】【了】，【一】【直】【让】【我】【去】【接】【手】，”【秦】【淮】【躺】【在】【床】【上】【搂】【着】【她】，“【我】【现】【在】【觉】【得】【时】【机】【差】【不】【多】【了】。” “【可】【是】，【爸】【那】【边】……” 【木】【兮】【有】八仙过海玄机图2016“【小】【姐】【凛】【儿】【怎】【么】【样】【了】！” 【龙】【心】【悦】【面】【上】【虽】【然】【很】【平】【静】，【可】【是】【眼】【中】，【却】【流】【露】【出】【了】【些】【许】【慌】【张】，【流】【风】【的】【心】【顿】【时】【咯】【噔】【了】【一】【下】。 【小】【姐】【不】【管】【遇】【到】【什】【么】【事】【情】，【都】【果】【断】【冷】【静】，【很】【少】【会】【出】【现】【慌】【张】【的】【情】【绪】。 【露】【出】【如】【此】【神】【情】，【难】【道】【凛】【儿】【真】【的】【死】【了】！ “【心】【悦】，【快】【说】！【凛】【儿】【到】【底】【怎】【么】【了】？” 【龙】【心】【悦】【有】【些】【心】【神】【不】【宁】，【挠】【了】【挠】【自】【己】【的】【头】【发】
【其】【他】【人】【看】【到】**【虎】【被】【队】【长】【踹】，【纷】【纷】【露】【出】【讥】【笑】。 【这】【便】【是】【军】【团】【小】【队】【内】【的】【现】【状】，【更】【何】【况】**【虎】【所】【在】【的】【小】【队】【还】【不】【是】【战】【斗】【现】【役】，【只】【是】【作】【为】【侦】【查】【和】【巡】【逻】【的】【预】【备】【役】【而】【已】，【所】【以】【新】【加】【入】【的】**【虎】【在】【里】【面】【没】【有】【任】【何】【地】【位】。 **【虎】【趴】【在】【地】【上】，【一】【声】【不】【吭】，【好】【一】【会】【儿】【才】【默】【默】【爬】【起】【来】，【将】【那】【些】【地】【上】【的】【大】【包】【小】【包】【全】【都】【重】【新】【背】【了】【起】【来】。 “【快】