Amazon blaming Trump over Pentagon contract loss, judge says
WASHINGTON -- Amazon is arguing in a court case that President Donald Trump's bias against the company harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract.
Amazon's legal complaint against the Pentagon is sealed. A federal judge summarized its arguments in comments released Thursday.
The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing contract to Microsoft in October. Federal Claims Court Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said at a Nov. 26 hearing that Amazon is arguing that the procurement process was compromised and negatively affected by Trump's publicly expressed bias. Audio from the hearing was released publicly Thursday.
The judge said Amazon has determined that the procurement process was not only "arbitrary and capricious decision-making" but was also 'úcompromised and negatively affected by the bias expressed publicly by'Ě Trump. She said Amazon is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the Pentagon from going forward with awarding the contract to Microsoft.
Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos are a frequent target of Trump. Bezos personally owns The Washington Post, and Trump has called the newspaper 'úfake news'Ě after it publishes unfavorable stories about him.
On July 18, well before the Pentagon announced its decision, Trump also told reporters that the administration would 'útake a very long look'Ě at the deal, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. The president cited 'útremendous complaints'Ě he said he had heard about the award.
The Pentagon has defended its handling of the bidding process, saying it wasn't affected by outside influence. Microsoft is also intervening in the case to defend its contract win.
The judge's comments confirm that Amazon is blaming Trump's bias for its loss, though the company had suggested that line of argument when it sought to include as evidence several videos of Trump making derogatory remarks about the company.
In one of the video clips that Amazon plans to submit as evidence, Trump says at a Texas campaign rally in February 2016 that he has 'úrespect for Jeff Bezos,'Ě but that Bezos bought the Washington Post for 'úpolitical influence so that Amazon will benefit from it.'Ě
'úIf I become president, oh, do they have problems,'Ě Trump said at the rally. 'úThey're going to have such problems.'Ě
Andy Jassy, who runs Amazon's cloud business, also said this week at a Las Vegas conference that there was "significant political interference" in the JEDI process and that the president's disdain for the company makes it hard for government agencies to 'úmake an objective decision without fear of reprisal," according to the Washington Post.
The White House didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday.