Amazon wants Trump, Esper to testify in fight for $10 billion Pentagon contract

WION Web Team San Francisco, United States Feb 11, 2020, 10.45 AM(IST)

US President Donald Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Amazon detailed alleged errors that ended with Microsoft being chosen over its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing division.

Amazon is seeking testimony from US President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper on how the tech giant was shut out of a $10 billion US military cloud computing Pentagon contract.

According to court documents made public on Monday, the company wants the Trump administration to hand over documents and emails relating to the contract.

The company is gathering evidence that its fierce rival Microsoft won the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract to upgrade the US military's computing networks lucratively.

Also read: Amazon lawsuit blames Trump for loss of Pentagon cloud contract

The company alleged that Trump ''exerted undue influence'' on the decision to deny it the $10 billion contract.

Along with Trump and Esper, Amazon seeks to depose former Defense Secretary James Mattis, Pentagon chief information officer Dana Deasy and four other procurement officials, court records show.

The other individuals "can testify about specific conversations he had with them," Amazon's lawyers said.

''The Department of Defense strongly opposes Amazon's effort to question some of its leaders,'' Department of Defense spokesman Lieutanant Colonel Robert Carver said.

"The request is unnecessary, burdensome and merely seeks to delay getting this important technology into the hands of our warfighters," Carver added.

Also read: United States defence chief rejects Amazon's accusations of bias in cloud contract

The JEDI contract is intended to give the military better access to data and technology from remote locations.

The 10-year contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure program, better known as JEDI, will ultimately see all military branches sharing information in a system boosted by artificial intelligence. 

An earlier court filing by Amazon detailed alleged errors that ended with Microsoft being chosen over its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing division, part of the technology group led by Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.

Amazon was considered the lead contender to provide technology for JEDI, with AWS dominating the cloud computing arena and the company already providing classified servers for other government outfits including the CIA.

The Pentagon's mistakes in the contract were "hard to understand and impossible to assess" when separated from Trump's "repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the president himself, 'screw Amazon,'" court documents filed by Amazon argued.

The bid protest filed in US Court of Federal Claims urges that the rival JEDI bids be re-evaluated and a new decision reached.

The lawsuit filed by Amazon will not delay implementation of the project, a senior Pentagon official said in December.