Trump slams Amazon for 'causing tremendous loss to the US'

President Trump starts off Thursday with an angry tweet about the e-commerce giant's effect on the US economy.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read

Trump has targeted Amazon repeatedly as president.

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President Donald Trump is once again calling out Amazon, complaining in a tweet Thursday morning about the e-commerce giant's business practices.

The president took aim at Amazon's tax contributions, its use of the US Postal Service and practices that put "many thousands of retailers out of business!" No surprise, he used Twitter, his favorite platform, to get the message out. 

The Twitter accusations aren't new. The president's tweet was likely prompted by an Axios story on Wednesday that reported Trump was weighing "going after" Amazon over alleged antitrust activities or violations of competition laws.

The Axios story appeared to contribute to a selloff of Amazon stock Wednesday, with Amazon shares dropping 4.4 percent, even though Trump's disdain for Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos was already well-known. Bezos owns The Washington Post, whose coverage of the president has been less-than-glowing, which may have factored into Trump's attacks.

Following all of Trump's complaints about Amazon, though, the question remains whether he would try to take action against the company. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday responded to the Axios report, saying: "We have no announcements and no specific policies or actions that we're currently pushing forward or considering taking." 

On Thursday, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told "Fox & Friends" that Trump's tweets weren't about personal animus against Bezos, but about ensuring tax policy for internet companies and brick-and-mortar retailers is fair.

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.

Amazon didn't respond to requests for comment about the Axios story and Trump's tweet. The company's shares were up about 1 percent Thursday.

The stock decline for Amazon came amid a broader selloff in tech and financial stocks, with Facebook especially taking a beating amid a scandal over the misuse of user data by polling company Cambridge Analytica. Those troubles may have created a negative backdrop for Amazon's decline Wednesday.

Trump is likely tapping into concerns among the public and other retailers that Amazon and other tech titans got too big, too fast and have gained too much power. Amazon, for instance, has aggressively grown in e-commerce, bought up the Whole Foods grocery chain and is shopping around for a new second headquarters. Meanwhile, competitors like Toys R Us and RadioShack have gone belly up.

However, despite Trump's accusations and Amazon's surging growth, it may be hard to go after the company on antitrust grounds. Amazon takes up 43.5 percent of US e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer. That's well ahead of the competition, but not even a majority. Also, e-commerce overall is still roughly only 10 percent of all retail sales.

This week's friction are the latest in a long-running series of dust-ups between Trump and Bezos, currently the world's richest person. As a presidential candidate, Trump slammed Bezos on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Texas that the Amazon boss purchased The Washington Post for political influence.

"I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence, and I gotta tell you, we have a different country than we used to have," Trump said in 2016. "He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems."

After the election, Bezos said Amazon would fight Trump's controversial immigration order, which temporarily blocked refugees and citizens of seven countries from entering the US.

"This executive order is one we do not support," Bezos told Amazon employees in a January 2017 email that referenced America's history as a nation of immigrants. "We are working ... legal options as well."

Despite the tension, Bezos participated in a tech summit at the White House in June 2017 that included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.

First published March 29, at 5:16 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:04 p.m.: Adds background.

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