Amazon says Trump cost it $10B Pentagon contract, wants do-over

Matt O'Brien and Joseph Pisani
Associated Press

Amazon says President Donald Trump’s “improper pressure” and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract.

The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing contract to Microsoft in October.

Amazon argues in a lawsuit unsealed Monday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that the decision should be revisited because of “substantial and pervasive errors” and Trump’s interference.

Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos are a frequent target of Trump. Bezos personally owns The Washington Post, which Trump has referred to as “fake news” whenever unfavorable stories are published about him.

Amazon argues in a lawsuit unsealed Monday, Dec. 9, that the decision should be revisited because of substantial and pervasive errors" and Trump's interference.

Amazon said it lost the deal due to Trump’s “personal vendetta against Mr. Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith said in a statement Monday the decision to select Microsoft “was made by an expert team of career public servants and military officers” and without external influence.

Formally called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure plan, or JEDI, the military’s computing project would store and process vast amounts of classified data. The Defense Department has said it will help speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities and enable the military to advance its use of artificial intelligence.

Amazon and Microsoft became the finalists after Oracle and IBM were eliminated in an earlier round of the contract competition. Oracle had also sued, arguing the bidding was rigged in Amazon’s favor. Trump publicly waded into the bidding process over the summer, saying he heard complaints and wanted the Pentagon to take a closer look.

“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,” Smith said.

The White House didn’t return an emailed request for comment Monday.

Microsoft said in a statement it has “confidence in the qualified staff at the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process.”

Charles Tiefer, a government contracting law professor at the University of Baltimore, said it would be “an uphill battle” for Amazon to win the lawsuit.

The company must prove real influence by the president beyond his tweets and campaign speeches. Emails and other documents would have to prove that Trump’s views toward Amazon were on the mind of officials in charge of awarding the contract.