Amazon wants to question Trump over losing USD10B contract bid

AP – Amazon wants United States (US) President Donald Trump to submit to questioning over the tech company’s losing bid for a USD10 billion military contract.

The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing project to Microsoft in October. Amazon later sued, arguing that Trump’s interference and bias against the company harmed Amazon’s chances.

Amazon was considered an early front-runner for a project that Pentagon officials have described as critical to advancing the US military’s technological advantage over adversaries. The project, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) will store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the US military to improve communications with soldiers on the battlefield and use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.

The Pentagon was preparing to announce its decision between finalists Amazon and Microsoft when Trump publicly waded into the fray in July. Trump said then that other companies told him the contract “wasn’t competitively bid,” and he said the administration would “take a very long look”. Oracle had also protested after it and IBM were eliminated from an earlier round of bidding.Amazon is looking for more information about what happened before and after Trump ordered the review.

George Washington University procurement law expert Steve Schooner said a deposition of Trump would be “clearly relevant to the primary allegations underlying their lawsuit,” but that doesn’t mean it will happen.

“I can’t imagine this president sitting for that deposition,” Schooner said in an email on Monday.

Besides seeking Trump’s deposition, Amazon is also asking to depose Mattis, current Defence Secretary Mark Esper and other government officials. Amazon said it wants more information about the “unusual timing” of Esper recusing himself from the decision-making process because of his son’s work for IBM. That came in October, long after IBM was no longer in the running for the contract and despite Esper earlier pledging to take a “hard look” at the bids after Trump ordered the review.

In a filing with the US Court of Federal Claims unsealed on Monday, Amazon said Trump has a “well-documented personal animus towards” Amazon, its CEO Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post, which Bezos owns. Amazon said Trump is the only one who can testify about the “totality of his conversations and the overall message he conveyed” about the bidding process.

Trump has accused Amazon of not paying its fair share of taxes and of putting brick-and-mortar stores out of business. Trump has also gone after Bezos personally and accused the Post of being Amazon’s ‘chief lobbyist’.