Amazon has launched a legal challenge against the Department of Defense’s preference to Microsoft Azure, suggesting the decision is linked back to President Trump’s hostility towards CEO Jeff Bezos.
The animosity between the pair has been anything but private, and now it appears the public display of difference is causing complications for the White House. Amazon is suggesting the Department of Defense’s decision to award the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure deal, known by the acronym JEDI, to Microsoft was compromised by the actions of Trump.
“This case demands an expanded AR [administrative record] so that the Court may fully assess AWS’s well-grounded claims of bias and bad faith,” the filing states.
“President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to disrupt the orderly administration of government functions-including federal procurements-to advance personal motives. There is no question he did so here.”
Amazon is requesting greater access to internal documentation to further build a case against the US under the assumption the President’s hatred towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw pressure placed on the Department of Defense to award the contract elsewhere. Aside from Amazon and Microsoft, IBM and Oracle were also in the running for the cloud infrastructure and migration services contract.
The contract itself was awarded to Microsoft back in October, though it was not without controversy at the time. Several Senators wrote to President Trump asking the decision to be re-evaluated in favour of splitting the contract to more than one supplier. These pleas were ignored, and AWS even released a statement questioning the logic of the decision on the grounds it believed it was the market leader.
To make matters a bit messier, a Seattle Judge ruled Government employees were unfairly favouring AWS in July. This ruling followed a lawsuit filed by Oracle which claimed there were conflicts of interest with past employees which led to AWS gaining an upper hand due to the way the contract was drawn up.
This has been a scruffy process from start to finish, and thanks to the President’s apparent personal feelings towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, it might be extended further.
The conflict between the two has been on-going for years, and AWS is now alleging the President pressured Government officials to ensure the Amazon company did not profit from Government contracts. The President reported ordered former Defense Secretary James Mattis to ‘screw Amazon’ out of the contract. Following these comments, procurement reports allegedly leaned towards Microsoft.
Amazon now claims the Department of Defense committed ‘numerous and compounding prejudicial errors’ which led to the team disfavouring AWS. These errors included relying on an outdated, superseded version of AWS’ proposal, misstating facts from the proposal, downplaying failures in the Microsoft proposal and fabricating areas of superiority in the final stages of evaluation to favour Microsoft.
This is only one incident, though Trump has a history of targeting Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos.
Prior to entering the White House, Trump had warned that it would be bad news for Amazon if he assumed power, while the filing aims to prove many of his actions have been used to punish enemies or advance his own personal agenda. The decision to award a $400 million contract to build the controversial wall to Fischer Industries and intervention to prevent the relocation of the FBI headquarters away from the nearby Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington are two more examples offered by AWS to demonstrate inappropriate influence and pressure from the Oval Office.
Another example is the removal of press credentials for CNN’s Jim Acosta just hours after the President branded the reporter a ‘rude, terrible person’. Although these examples are not directly relevant, if AWS is able to prove the President unduly influences Government decisions based on grudges or personal grudges it might be able to gain some traction.
The end game has not been explicitly mentioned in the filing, just that AWS lawyers want to begin a ‘discovery’ process which would be used to fuel future legal action. AWS clearly feels it has something to gain here, either by halting the President’s alleged bias against the firm or forcing the Department of Defense to restart the