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Amazon fingers Trump in lawsuit over $10B contract awarded to Microsoft

The company sues over the Defense Department's JEDI cloud computing contract and alleges "unmistakable bias."

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Amazon logos on a screen and lectern.

Amazon maintains that the awarding of the JEDI contract involved "clear deficiencies."

James Martin/CNET

Amazon sued the Pentagon on Friday, challenging the Defense Department's recent award of a $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft, according to the Associated Press. In a sealed complaint filed with the US Court of Federal Claims, Amazon directly linked the awarding of the contract -- which it alleges involved "political influence" and "unmistakable bias" -- to comments by President Donald Trump, The Washington Post reported. 

Trump has been a frequent critic of Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

The suit concerns the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract and was filed under seal by Amazon to protect trade secrets, the Post reported. In the suit, Amazon says its evidence will include several videos, among them a Fox News segment in which the host urged Trump to scuttle a contract with Amazon, calling it a "Bezos bailout." Trump later retweeted a link to the clip, the Post said. In another video, Trump tells reporters that he'd been hearing complaints about the contract process and would ask officials to "look at it very closely to see what's going on."

Amazon and Bezos are favorite targets of Trump, whose attacks are widely seen as stemming from unflattering coverage by the Post.

Last month, military-focused site Task & Purpose reported that a new biography of former Defense Secretary James Mattis said Trump had ordered Mattis to "screw Amazon" out of the chance to bid on the JEDI contract. 

The contract was awarded to Microsoft last month, surprising a number of industry observers.

"We believe it's critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence," said a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services, Amazon's cloud computing subsidiary. "Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias -- and it's important that these matters be examined and rectified."

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company has "confidence in the qualified staff at the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process." The Post said Microsoft has filed to intervene in the Amazon protest and thus has a chance to participate in the case.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the Post's report about the filing. The Defense Department's Office of Inspector General declined to comment, but a Defense Department spokeswoman told the Post that the department is aware of Amazon's suit and that the process of awarding the JEDI contract "was conducted in accordance with the stated criteria in the solicitation and procurement law."

Originally published Nov. 23, 12:27 p.m. PT.
Update, 2:05 p.m.: Adds statement from Amazon Web Services.