AWS JEDI protest points at Trump

Amazon Web Services' protest of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract award to Microsoft will likely center around allegations of political influence.

Amazon Web Services filed its protest of the Defense Department’s high-profile Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract late on Nov. 22.

Although the full complaint against DOD’s selection last month of Microsoft over AWS for the contract is sealed for now, the company’s case will center around allegations of political influence in the award, based on AWS’ initial statement that it would protest. That likely is a reference to President Donald Trump’s public criticisms of Amazon and its founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

In fact, an unsealed document in AWS’ filing lists four videos as being part of the company’s case. The first video is of 2016 speech at an election campaign rally in Texas where Trump criticized Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post and said Amazon would have "such problems" if he became president.

Video clip number two mentions remarks Trump made to the press in July of this year. While not specific, that reference is almost certainly to a comment Trump made July 18 that he asked the Pentagon to “look at it very closely to see what’s going on.” The president said he heard “tremendous complaints” that the contract was tilted toward AWS, and there was “complaining from different companies like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM.”

Video exhibit number three is the Oct. 29 testimony of DOD CIO Dana Deasy to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he defended and sought to explain the department’s process for the JEDI acquisition.

The filing is not clear regarding which part of Deasy’s comments is in question. But Deasy did tell the committee he feels “very confident” that none of the team members involved in the source selection “were influenced with anything external, including the White House.”

Video exhibit number four is a July 21 Fox News segment that aired as part of the channel’s “Swamp Watch” feature. That segment essentially claimed the fix was in for Amazon to win JEDI via the company’s lobbying efforts and alleged improper contacts with DOD officials -- the central crux of Oracle’s case against JEDI. Oracle’s main goal is to make DOD start all over again with its cloud infrastructure buy but with a multiple-award contract.

An alleged comment in a new book about former Defense Secretary James Mattis goes much deeper. That book claims Trump told Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of a JEDI award. But the book also claims Mattis told his staff afterward that ‘We’re not going to do that. This will be done by the book, both legally and ethically.’”

A longer version of article was first posted to Washington Technology, a sibling site to GCN.

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