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Amazon blames Trump ‘pressure’ for losing $10B Pentagon cloud contract to Microsoft

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle in a June 2014 file image. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times/TNS)
December 09, 2019

Amazon blamed President Trump and his “improper pressure” for influencing the Pentagon to avoid signing a huge cloud computing contract with Amazon, instead signing with Microsoft.

Amazon waged the complaint with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims – which was released to the public on Monday — alleging that Amazon was favored to win the 10-year, $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) until Trump “launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks,” The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The complaint argues that Trump’s intention was “to harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos.”

Trump previously blamed Bezos – the owner of The Washington Post – for negative coverage of his administration, although the Post has denied editorial influence.

In July, Trump indicated that Amazon was under scrutiny over potential conflict-of-interest stemming from meetings between Amazon leadership and then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and called for an investigation into those ties.

“I’m getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and Amazon,” Trump said at the time. “I will be asking them to look very closely to see what’s going on.”

In 2017, Mattis reportedly met with an Amazon executive in charge of cloud contracts to governments, which later led to a meeting between Mattis and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Wall Street Journal reported in July.

Meetings were also arranged between the same executive and other Pentagon officials. However, Amazon claimed the meetings did not yield “preferential treatment.”

The Pentagon eventually chose Microsoft, citing better qualifications, and noting that the scrutiny against Amazon didn’t impact that decision.

Amazon, however, insists that the outcome was altered by Trump’s intervention, which prompted an improper evaluation of Amazon’s bid.

“Rarely, if ever, has a President engaged in such a blatant and sustained effort to direct the outcome of a government procurement—let alone because of personal animus and political objectives,” Amazon claimed in its new complaint.

The White House maintains that the Pentagon’s decision was made with a team of experts and followed typical procedures.

“There were no external influences on the source selection decision,” the White House said in a statement. “The department is confident in the JEDI award and remains focused on getting this critical capability into the hands of our warfighters as quickly and efficiently as possible.”