In another time and place, it would be the story of the decade: billionaire Amazon owner Jeff Bezos was being blackmailed by the National Enquirer, probably with the help of the President of the United States. But because Donald Trump has insane scandals on a daily basis, it’s largely gotten lost in the wash. That said, it looks like the whole thing is in the process of being escalated significantly.
Back when National Enquirer boss David Pecker was caught illegally conspiring with Michael Cohen and Donald Trump on hush money payments, it was widely reported that Pecker was given an immunity deal in exchange for his cooperation. When Bezos later outed Pecker for having tried to blackmail him with compromising pictures, it seemed inevitable that Pecker’s immunity deal would be revoked, and that he’d end up charged. Now it turns out there’s an active grand jury in the scandal.
Well, at least we think there’s an active federal grand jury. We say that because the grand jury is being reported by Fox News. That said, this isn’t the kind of story that Fox likes to make up, so we’re going to presume it’s true. The important part here is that grand juries only exist for one reason: to deliver indictments. Cohen is already in prison, and we know that the Feds aren’t currently allowed to indict Trump because he’s the sitting president.
That only leaves David Pecker, his National Enquirer / AMI underlings, and the Saudi Arabians who allegedly helped them with the hacking. So the most plausible scenario is that the grand jury is going to indict Pecker for sure – and potentially the Saudis, in order to establish conspiracy charges.
With the glacial rate at which these kinds of prosecutions and trials tend to play out, it’s entirely possible that David Pecker could find himself wanting or needing to cut a new plea deal right around the time of the 2020 election. If Donald Trump is voted out, Pecker could end up cutting a deal against Trump, which would give Pecker the best shot at a reduced sentence. And even if Trump tries to pardon Pecker on federal charges on his way out the door, state charges would still be in play.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report