By Jon Swartz
Amazon.com Inc. has asked a federal court for permission to depose President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper for their roles in the award of a controversial $10 billion cloud-computing contract, according to a filing unsealed Monday.
The filing (seeks testimony from former Defense Secretary James Mattis and what he may have known about Trump's attitude toward the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, which went to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) instead of the presumed favorite, Amazon (AMZN).
See also:Microsoft wins Pentagon's $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, beating Amazon ()
"President Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to interfere with government functions -- including federal procurements -- to advance his personal agenda," AWS said in a statement to MarketWatch.
"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,'" AWS said. "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."
Amazon contends in its filing that the Pentagon's rationale for awarding the contract to Microsoft left out "crucial information and details that led to this flawed and potentially detrimental decision regarding DoD's future cloud infrastructure."
The White House was not immediately available for comment.
A decision on Amazon's motion is expected in the coming weeks.
Trump has made no secret of his enmity toward Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder and chief executive of Amazon. Bezos also owns the Washington Post, whose coverage has been highly critical of Trump.
Before he took office, Trump campaigned on a promise that Amazon would "have problems" if he became president. And he privately ordered then-Defense Secretary Mattis to "screw Amazon" out of the JEDI contract, according to the book, "Holding The Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis."
See also:Amazon files suit, challenging Pentagon's $10 billion cloud contract to Microsoft ()
Amazon filed a suit in U.S. Court of Federal Claims in late November challenging JEDI's award.
Amazon's unusual attempt to depose a sitting president in a contract protest is the latest twist in the JEDI saga. The awarding of the mega-deal has been entangled in protests from Oracle Corp. (ORCL) , which was eliminated from consideration, and fierce competition between the leading cloud-computer vendors, Amazon and Microsoft.
The relationship between Amazon and the Pentagon was heavily scrutinized, and the procurement process was frozen Aug. 1 while Esper examined the process. Esper later recused himself because his son worked for International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) , another contender for the contract that already had been eliminated.
This is not the first time the president has weighed in on a deal involving a company he has clashed with. Shortly after he entered the White House, and reportedly at Trump's request, the Justice Department reversed its position on the AT&T Inc.-Time Warner (T) merger and filed suit to block it. CNN, a favorite Trump target, is owned by the now-merged company.
-Jon Swartz; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 10, 2020 16:44 ET (21:44 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.