Topline: Amazon lost a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract with the Pentagon due to “improper direct intervention” by Donald Trump in the decision-making process, the company claimed in a new legal filing made public on Monday ramping up the ongoing feud between the president and the world’s richest man.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS, the company’s cloud business) was the consensus frontrunner to win the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which is worth $10 billion over a decade, until President Trump began to question the decision-making process and ramped up his criticism of Amazon, according to the complaint.
- The e-commerce giant cited “egregious errors” in the Department of Defense’s evaluation process, stemming from “improper pressure” from Trump and his repeated determination to “screw Amazon,” which led to Microsoft winning the contract, the company alleged in its legal filing.
- Amazon claims that Trump, who has made no secret of his personal dislike for Bezos, Amazon and the Washington Post—or his desire to harm them—“intervened directly” in the process, leading the Pentagon to award the coveted contract to rival Microsoft instead.
- The president launched “repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks” to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to “harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos,” the filing claims.
- In its complaint, Amazon detailed how Trump “has used his office to step up his attacks against Amazon, the Washington Post, and Mr. Bezos,” and even before that publicly criticized the three, since at least 2015.
- Amazon also reiterated that AWS “was and still is the only contractor that has a proven approach” for managing a cloud project with the scale contemplated by JEDI.
Crucial quote: “Basic justice requires reevaluation of proposals and a new award decision,” Amazon wrote in the filing. “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.”
Key background: Amazon confirmed last month that it had filed a legal complaint with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to protest the Pentagon’s decision to award Microsoft with the massive cloud-computing JEDI contract on October 25. In a previous statement, when Amazon announced that it would legally fight the decision, a spokesperson from Amazon Web Services cited “clear deficiencies,” “unmistakable bias” and “political influence” within the Pentagon’s evaluation process.
This latest discord also marks an escalation of the ongoing feud between Trump and Bezos, who is worth $109.5 billion according to Forbes estimates. Trump has in the past called the Washington Post a “propaganda machine,” “lobbyist weapon” and a “tax shelter” for Bezos and Amazon. The president is reportedly “obsessed” with taking down the e-commerce giant, repeatedly criticized the company for not paying enough in taxes. He has also lashed out at Bezos personally, in January calling him “Jeff Bozo” and tweeting about the National Enquirer story detailing Bezos’ relationship with Laura Sanchez.
What to watch for: Whether Amazon will make headway with its appeal for a reevaluation of the JEDI contract awarded to Microsoft. For its part, Microsoft has already started working on the colossal cloud computing contract, despite Amazon’s protest. “We were working every day before we won that contract to make the product better,” Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, told CNBC on Saturday. “We have if anything been moving even faster since that contract was awarded.”