Tech

Amazon's top spokesman: We want to question Trump over 'blatant political interference' in Pentagon cloud contract decision

Key Points
  • Amazon wants to question President Donald Trump in its protest of the JEDI contract award to make sure the process was "free of political interference," Amazon's Jay Carney said Wednesday.
  • In court filings unsealed Monday, Amazon asked to depose Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary James Mattis.
  • Amazon alleges Trump launched "behind-the-scenes attacks" against the company, which caused it to lose out on the $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract to Microsoft.
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Amazon SVP Carney: There was 'blatant political interference' in JEDI contract

Amazon's top spokesperson, Jay Carney, said Wednesday the company wants President Donald Trump to shed light on his involvement in a $10 billion cloud contract to make sure the process was "free of political interference."

Earlier this week, Amazon said in newly unsealed court documents that it's looking to question Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary James Mattis as part of its protest of the JEDI cloud contract award.

It's not uncommon for companies to protest a government contract award. But Carney said Amazon's lawsuit is less about losing the contract itself and more about examining whether Trump used his position as president to interfere in the decision process.

"All we're trying to do through this protest and this request for a legal review is to ensure that a proper decision was made on behalf of U.S. taxpayers," Carney, a former press secretary for President Barack Obama, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Wednesday when asked about Amazon's move to depose Trump.

"It's about ensuring that the government, the Department of Defense, is free of political interference in these kinds of political decisions that affect the capabilities of our armed services," he said.

Carney contended that Amazon's protest of the JEDI decision is "highly unusual," pointing to the allegations laid out in the company's lawsuit. By deposing Trump, Amazon Web Services is looking to learn more about Trump's involvement in the bidding process, including any private conversations that took place or any instructions that were given regarding the award.

"It's very important to us that a full legal review take place to examine what we believe was blatant political interference that took place in this process that affected the decision that was made," Carney said.

The $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud computing contract was awarded to Microsoft in October. The deal drew immediate scrutiny because Trump became involved. Trump often criticizes Amazon and Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, claiming the newspaper unfairly covers his administration.

In November, Amazon filed a notice in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims indicating it would protest the decision. Amazon said in court documents made public in December that Trump launched "behind-the-scenes attacks" against the company, which caused it to lose out on the JEDI contract.

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Amazon wants to question Trump, Esper and Mattis in JEDI case