Amazon aims to question Trump after losing $10 bln Pentagon cloud deal

Amazon wants to depose U.S. President Donald Trump, Defence Secretary Mark Esper, and former Defence Secretary James Mattis concerning a $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract awarded to Microsoft.

In court documents unsealed and filed on Monday, Amazon’s cloud computing arm said it is seeking to depose seven “individuals who were instrumental” in the JEDI source selection and “played pivotal roles” in the ultimate awarding of the contract.

Aside from Trump, Mattis and Esper, Amazon Web Services also wants to depose the Defence Department’s chief information officer, Dana Deasy, and the source selection authority, which awarded the contract to Microsoft, in addition to the chairpersons of the SSA, according to the documents.

“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.” a spokesperson for AWS told CNBC in a statement

“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.’

“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.”

Both the White House as well as representatives from the Defence Department and Microsoft declined to comment.

The Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract could be amount up to $10 billion for services rendered over as many as 10 years. The Pentagon chose Microsoft over Amazon for the colossal contract on October 25. Amazon was initially seen as the favourite to win the contract until Trump said in July that he was looking into the contract after IBM and other companies protested the bidding process.

In November, Amazon filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims indicating a plan to object the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft the multibillion-dollar cloud contract. Amazon claimed that the JEDI evaluation process involved “clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias.”

Amazon said in court documents made public last December that Trump launched “behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company, which led it to lose out on the JEDI contract. Some of those alleged attacks were detailed in Mattis’ recent memoir, in which the former Defence secretary claimed Trump told him to “screw Amazon” out of the contract.

AWS said it is looking to depose Trump about his involvement in the bidding process, including any private conversations that occurred or any instructions that were given concerning the award, as well as any “efforts to harm Amazon or AWS.”

“While other individuals can testify about specific conversations he had with them individually, President Trump is the only individual who can testify about the totality of his conversations and the overall message he conveyed,” the filings showed.

“Moreover, President Trump has unique knowledge about whether he had other, previously undisclosed conversations with individuals not previously identified, and who therefore do not appear on the deposition list.”

AWS seeks to depose Mattis because it claims he has “highly relevant, first-hand knowledge about Trump’s animus toward Mr. Bezos and Amazon and the efforts President Trump took to pressure DoD officials” on the JEDI contract award.

AWS also said Esper intervened in the JEDI award process to “conduct an ‘examination’ at President Trump’s behest.” Last August, Esper announced that he would review the JEDI contract and recused himself from the JEDI source selection process last October. AWS said the timing, circumstances, and announcement of Esper’s recusal raises concerns and that it would need further details about his recusal by deposing Esper.

Bezos has been a constant source of frustration for the American president. The billionaire executive owns The Washington Post newspaper, which Trump constantly slams for its coverage of his administration.

The American president also has gone after Amazon repeatedly for, as he claims, not paying its fair share of taxes and ripping off the U.S. Post Office.

In December, Amazon’s AWS chief Andy Jassy told CNBC that the cloud contract was not adjudicated fairly.

“You know, there was significant political interference here,” Jassy talked of the JEDI award.

“When you have a sitting president who’s willing to be very vocal that they dislike a company and the CEO of that company, it makes it difficult for government agencies, including the DoD to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal. And I think that’s dangerous and risky for our country,” he told CNBC’s Jon Fortt.

Source: CNBC

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