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Amazon Web Services wants Trump to testify on order ‘to screw Amazon’ in Pentagon deal

Reuters WASHINGTON | Updated on February 11, 2020 Published on February 11, 2020

The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends, asks Amazon

Amazon Web Services said on Monday it was seeking to depose President Donald Trump and Defence Secretary Mark Esper in its lawsuit over whether the president was trying “to screw Amazon” when it awarded a Pentagon contract for cloud computing to rival Microsoft Corp.

The Amazon.com Inc unit alleged that Trump, who has publicly derided Amazon head Jeff Bezos and repeatedly criticized the company, exerted undue influence on the decision to deny it the $10 billion contract. Known as the Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure Cloud, or JEDI, the contract is intended to give the military better access to data and technology from remote locations.

In the lawsuit, Amazon said it seeks discovery “demonstrating exactly how President Trump’s order to screw Amazon was carried out during the decision making process”. Without this, “the Court cannot objectively and fully evaluate AWS’ credible and well-grounded allegations about bias and bad faith,” the lawsuit said.

An Amazon spokesperson said that “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.”

“The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the spokesperson added.

Interference by Trump

The lawsuit also cites other instances of interference by President Trump. For example, his alleged interference in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ award of a $400 million border wall contract to Fisher Industries in December 2019 and a report that Trump intervened in the General Services Administration’s solicitation of bids to move the FBI’s headquarters to a new campus in the suburbs.

The Pentagon and White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Amazon filed a motion in court to delay the Department of Defence deal with Microsoft until a court rules on its protest of the contract award.

The procurement process has been delayed by legal complaints and conflict of interest allegations. Defence Secretary Mark Esper has denied that there was bias and said the Pentagon made its choice fairly and freely without external influence.

Published on February 11, 2020
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