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Amazon wants to depose Trump after losing $10 billion Pentagon contract

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in Seattle in a June 2014 file image. (Ken Lambert/Seattle Times/TNS)
February 10, 2020

Amazon is moving forward with its complaint against the Trump administration over allegations Trump prevented Amazon from winning the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract.

In court documents unsealed Monday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) indicated they were seeking the chance to depose President Donald Trump in court, in addition to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and current Defense Secretary Mark Esper, according to CNBC.

AWS first raised complaints against the Trump administration in November after competitor Microsoft won out on the estimated $10 billion JEDI contract. Amazon has alleged Trump sought to influence the contract process, “to harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos.”

Amazon wants to know what conversations between Trump and those deciding the outcome of the bidding process may have occurred.

Trump indicated in July that he had concerns that conversations between Amazon and then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis may have created a conflict of interest in the bid process. IBM and other companies also reportedly shared concerns about Amazon enjoying unfair support in the bidding process.

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“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 his recent White House memoir “Call Sign Chaos,” Mattis indicated Trump had told him, “screw Amazon.” That allegation appears to serve as some of the basis for Amazon’s allegations Trump unfairly pushed for Amazon to lose the deal.

Amazon also denied that its meetings with Mattis resulted in “preferential treatment,” towards their bid for the JEDI contract.

“President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions – including federal procurements – to advance his personal agenda,” an AWS spokesperson told CNBC on Monday. “The preservation of public confidence in the nation’s procurement process requires discovery and supplementation of the administrative record, particularly in light of President Trump’s order to ‘screw Amazon.'”

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

In December, the White House denied it unfairly influenced the bid process against Amazon.

“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.”

The White House and Pentagon representatives reportedly declined CNBC requests for comments following the latest development in the Amazon case. Microsoft, the JEDI contract winner, also reportedly declined CNBC’s requests for comment.