Amazon says President Donald Trump launched “behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company, which led to it losing out on a major contract for cloud services.
In a heavily redacted, 103-page document made public Monday, Amazon Web Services lays out why it’s protesting the Department of Defense’s decision to award Microsoft the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract. AWS claims it didn’t win the JEDI contract, which could be worth as much as $10 billion, as a result of Trump’s repeated public and private attacks against Amazon and, specifically, its CEO Jeff Bezos.
“The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the filing states. “DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon.’ Basic justice requires re-evaluation of proposals and a new award decision.”
AWS is now calling for the Defense Department to terminate the award and conduct another review of the submitted proposals.
AWS argues Trump’s intervention was a “fundamental defect” in the procurement process that made it impossible for the agency to judge a winner “reasonably, consistently, and in a fair and equal manner.” The company cites Trump’s track record of taking Bezos to task publicly as evidence that the president “has made no secret of his personal dislike” for Bezos and his ownership of The Washington Post. Trump then “used his office” to prevent AWS from winning the contract when he “intervened directly in the very final phases of the two-year procurement process,” the company claims.
The company also argues the DOD “ignored the plain language of AWS’ proposal” and “glossed over wide gaps” between AWS’ market leading position in the cloud computing industry and Microsoft’s Azure.
Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith denied any “external influences” on the JEDI award decision and declined to comment on the specific claims made in Amazon’s lawsuit.
“This source selection decision was made by an expert team of career public servants and military officers from across the Department of Defense and in accordance with DOD’s normal source-selection process,” Smith said in a statement. “There were no external influences on the source selection decision. 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.”
Representatives from Amazon did not respond to requests for comment. The White House declined to comment.
The deal drew immediate scrutiny because Trump became involved and he often criticizes Amazon and Bezos. Trump’s influence over the deal came into focus when a book charting then-Defense Secretary James Mattis’ tenure at the White House claimed the president told Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the contract.
In August, the Pentagon said it wouldn’t award the JEDI contract until Defense Secretary Mark Esper completed a review of the technology. At the time, Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, said the agency wouldn’t “rush to a decision” until it was confident it picked the best proposal.