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Amazon Suit Claims Trump Bias Tainted Cloud Bid, Judge Says

Naomi Nix

(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. claims it lost a Pentagon cloud contract valued at as much as $10 billion because of political interference by President Donald Trump, according to the judge overseeing the case.

Federal Claims Court Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said during a court proceeding last week that Amazon’s lawsuit argues that the Pentagon didn’t award the cloud deal to Microsoft Corp. on the basis of a fair evaluation of the companies’ bids.

“Plaintiff contends that the procurement process was compromised and negatively affected by the bias expressed publicly by the president and commander in chief Donald Trump against plaintiff,” Campbell-Smith said in a recording of a status hearing released Thursday by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington.

The judge’s comments were the first public confirmation that Amazon cited bias by Trump as grounds to overturn the award to Microsoft. Trump has long criticized Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on everything from the shipping rates his company pays the U.S. Postal Service to his personal ownership of what Trump calls “the Amazon Washington Post.”

The contract was awarded to Microsoft “despite what plaintiff characterizes as its depth of experience, superior technology and proven record of success in handling the most sensitive government data,” Campbell-Smith said.

Amazon filed a lawsuit under seal with the court last month to formally protest its loss of the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud contract.

For More: Amazon’s $10 Billion Pentagon Challenge: Proving Trump Meddled

Campbell-Smith said Amazon is seeking to prohibit the Defense Department from proceeding without a new evaluation or award decision. The company is requesting that the Pentagon either reevaluate bids or reopen the procurement to allow for bid revisions, the judge said.

Campbell-Smith also granted Microsoft’s request to intervene in the suit.

In July, Trump stunned lawmakers and technology companies when he openly questioned whether the JEDI contract was being competitively bid, citing complaints from Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.

Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, said during his confirmation hearing in late October that to the best of his knowledge, no one from the White House reached out to any members of the JEDI cloud contract selection team.

The Pentagon’s JEDI cloud project is designed to consolidate the department’s cloud computing infrastructure and modernize its technology systems. The contract is worth as much as $10 billion over 10 years and could offer the winner a bigger foothold in the burgeoning federal cloud market.

(Updates with Amazon seeking new evaluation and decision from seventh paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Nix in Washington at nnix1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Larry Liebert

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