Science-Technology, Americas

Amazon says Trump blocked it from $10B cloud contract

Tech giant alleges US president mounted campaign of 'improper pressure' to ensure Pentagon did not award contract to Amazon

Michael Hernandez   | 10.12.2019
Amazon says Trump blocked it from $10B cloud contract


Tech giant Amazon said in court documents made public Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump worked to block it from being awarded a public $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract.

Amazon's lawyers said in a heavily redacted 103-page document filed in U.S. federal claims court that the "arbitrary and capricious" decision to award the contract to Microsoft was due to "improper pressure" from Trump who the company said "launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks" to ensure it would not be given the contract.

Amazon said Trump was motivated by his desire "to harm his perceived political enemy-Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS's parent company,, Inc. ("Amazon"), and owner of the Washington Post."

"Rarely, if ever, has a President engaged in such a blatant and sustained effort to direct the outcome of a government procurement-let alone because of personal animus and political objectives. Our laws reject this unfair influence and bias into the government procurement process," it said.

The company was referring to Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing branch. Trump has repeatedly launched broadsides against Bezos and the Post, which he derisively and regularly calls "the Amazon Washington Post" and "fake news."

Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith denied the existence of "external influences" on the decision to give the contract to Microsoft.

"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,” she said in a widely-reported statement.

The Pentagon awarded the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to Microsoft in October, and Amazon sued the following month to have the decision overturned and to have the bidding process reopened.

The complaint was made public Monday, albeit with significant redactions.

Amazon claimed in the document that its offer was superior to Microsoft's and that the decision to award the contract to its rival included "egregious errors on nearly every" factor used to decide the award.

Amazon was widely regarded as the front-runner in the run up to the formal award of the JEDI contract, which seeks to store massive amounts of classified information on a cloud service.

Trump said in the run-up to the decision that he had received "tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon."

"They're saying it wasn't competitively bid," he said. "I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what's going on."

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