Trump put pressure on Pentagon to hurt Jeff Bezos: Amazon

Las Vegas: Jeff Bezos during on-stage talk at Amazon re: Mars conference in Las Vegas on June 6, 2019. (Photos: IANS)

Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) In a damning attack against President Donald Trump, Amazon has alleged in its complaint — filed against the US government’s decision to award $10 billion Pentagon Cloud project to the “less competitive” Microsoft — that Trump abused his position to put “improper pressure” on decision-makers for personal gains and show his hatred towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who owns The Washington Post.

In a formal protest unsealed at the US Court of Federal Claims, Amazon on Monday said the US President “launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company in an effort to undermine its bid and hurt its founder and CEO Bezos, “his perceived political enemy”.

“The stakes are high. 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,” said the company which lost the prestigious JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure) contract to Microsoft on October 25.

The White House declined to comment.

“Basic justice requires reevaluation of proposals and a new award decision,” Amazon reiterated.

“President Trump’s improper direct intervention, its upending of the procurement, and the President’s personal goal of preventing AWS from receiving the JEDI contract were widely reported at the time,” reports The Washington Post, citing Amazon’s filing.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a $36 billion Cloud business of the retail giant.

The Department of Defense (DoD), however, said that the procurement process was conducted by seasoned procurement experts.

“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,” DoD said in an email.

The complaint said Pentagon “took numerous actions to systematically remove the advantages of AWS’s technological and experiential superiority” and changed its interpretation of certain technical requirements at the 11th hour, including asking to develop new data centers “dedicated to handle classified Defense Department information”.

“President Trump’s animosity toward Mr. Bezos, Amazon, and the Washington Post is well known, and it originates at least in part from his dissatisfaction with the Washington Post’s coverage of him from before he assumed office,” Amazon claims in its filing.

According to Gartner’s Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market segment share globally, AWS is far ahead in this segment with 47.8 per cent share, followed by Microsoft at 15.5 per cent, Alibaba at 7.7 per cent and Google at a mere 4 per cent.

At the AWS “re: Invent” developer conference in Las Vegas last week, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said the US government’s decision to award the project to the Satya Nadella-run company was done under significant political interference.

“It’s fairly obvious that we feel pretty strongly that it (the deal) was not adjudicated fairly. If you do a truly objective, detailed and apples-to-apples comparison with the platforms, you don’t end up in a spot where the decision was made,” he told reporters.

“When you have a sitting president who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DoD, to make an objective decision without fear of reprisal,” the AWS CEO emphasised.

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