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Amazon requests Trump deposition amid Pentagon ‘war cloud’ fight

Amazon is seeking to depose President Trump and top administration officials amid its court battle with the Pentagon over a $10 billion cloud computing contract.

In a court filing made public on Monday, Amazon asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for permission to depose Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary James Mattis as it works to prove that Trump improperly intervened in the contract process to keep the lucrative award away from tech behemoth.

“President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to disrupt the orderly administration of government functions, including federal procurements, to advance personal motives,” Amazon said in the court filing. “There is no question he did so here.”

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Amazon is suing the Pentagon over its decision to award the cloud computing contract, called the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, to Microsoft, claiming Amazon was the clear front-runner before Trump publicly intervened in the process last year.

Now, Amazon is asking the court to move into a discovery period that could allow Amazon to amass more documents and evidence to prove whether Trump interfered in the process behind closed doors.

The Pentagon’s decision to award the cloud-computing award to Microsoft last year shocked industry watchers and analysts, who had almost universally predicted that Amazon — the market leader in cloud computing — would receive the award, which will allow one company to create the cloud infrastructure across the entire Department of Defense (DOD).

“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,’ ” an Amazon Web Services spokesperson said on Monday, referring to an allegation by Mattis’s former speechwriter that Trump had once asked how he could best “screw Amazon.”

For years, Trump has publicly expressed animosity towards Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over the tech executive’s ownership of The Washington Post, a newspaper that the president has accused of exhibiting bias against him.

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“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,” the spokesperson said.

The Pentagon has denied all allegations of political interference, insisting that Microsoft was simply best positioned to carry out the complex cloud computing project. Microsoft for the most part has stayed out of the fray publicly, vowing to carry out the contract in order to help supercharge the Pentagon’s war capabilities.

It would be unprecedented to depose a sitting president as part of a company’s government contract protest.

Amazon in a footnote wrote “a deposition of a sitting President of the United States presents unique circumstances” but vowed to “develop appropriate protocols and safeguards” to navigate the sensitive situation.

Updated at 11:04 a.m.

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