President Donald Trump has frequently criticised Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos in the past © Getty Images
President Donald Trump has frequently criticised Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos in the past © Getty Images

Amazon seeks to quiz Trump on JEDI procurement

11 February 2020

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is seeking depositions with US president Donald Trump and secretary of defense Mark Esper as part of a legal dispute over the controversial JEDI contract.

In the court papers, filed in the US Court of Federal Claims, AWS has sought leave to depose seven individuals it believes were “instrumental in the source selection” and in the ultimate contract award for the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative (JEDI).

AWS began its legal challenge in November 2019, after the $10bn contract to store and collect sensitive military data in a centralised system was awarded to Microsoft. 

In the filing, AWS alleged the DoD's decision to award the contract to Microsoft resulted from “numerous and compounding prejudicial errors”.

“These troubling errors alone are enough to require reversal of the award. But this case also raises a more fundamental and disturbing concern about the integrity of the JEDI procurement process,” it said. 

“President Donald J Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position … to disrupt the orderly administration of government functions – including federal procurements – to advance personal motives.”   

AWS has sought leave from the court to question Trump on his involvement in the bid process, “including private conversations and instructions to others about the process and the award”. 

It seeks to gain information from Esper on his involvement in the review of the JEDI procurement process, and his interactions with Trump, White House officials, and the Source Selection Team. 

AWS also wants to hear from former secretary of defense, James Mattis, over claims Trump had directed him to “screw Amazon” out of the contract.  

Others named by AWS included Dana Deasy, the DoD’s chief information officer, as well as three members of the committee that helped make the JEDI selection. The committee members’ names were redacted from the filing. 

An AWS spokesperson said: “The preservation of public confidence in the nation’s procurement process requires discovery and supplementation of the administrative record, particularly in light of president Trump’s order to ‘screw Amazon.’ The question is whether the president of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends.”

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