AWS CEO Jassy: Trump's ‘Political Influence’ Over JEDI Cloud Threatens National Security
‘I think it's really risky for the country and for democracy,’ Jassy told reporters, if the decision for a platform to host military apps is not made objectively. AWS got a ‘lot of information about the evaluation,’ he added, without getting into specific evidence of a corrupted process.
AWS CEO Andy Jassy repeated Wednesday that President Donald Trump's "disdain" for Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, resulted in the military's JEDI contract for cloud computing services not being awarded to the best supplier.
The leader of the world's largest public cloud provider, asked in a Q&A session with reporters at the company's re:Invent conference about whether AWS has evidence that Pentagon officials acted at the direction of the president to torpedo the company's bid for the potentially $10 billion engagement, said he strongly believed Trump's role in the selection process created a national security hazard.
Jassy said his response had to be limited because the company is now in active litigation challenging the award of the prestigious cloud computing contract to Microsoft. But he said he believes, at least indirectly, the evidence makes clear the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure initiative was improperly influenced at the highest level of the government.
“When you have a sitting president who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company, it makes it really difficult for government agencies, including the DOD, to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal," Jassy said.
The AWS CEO added later in the session that he knows the respective offerings, components and criteria for JEDI quite well.
"We got a lot of information about the evaluation," Jassy said, without getting into the specifics. "The conclusion we have made is there was a lot of political interference here."
The manner by which the military selected Microsoft as its General Purpose cloud provider is bad for the people and institutions of the United States, Jassy said.
"I think it's really risky for the country and for democracy," he said, for such important decisions to be made in that way.
"You talk about national security of our country, and modernizing their technology platform, foundation on which all those applications that are going to be used to protect our country, you have to make sure those decisions are made truly objectively."
Elissa Smith, a Department of Defense spokeswoman, told CRN that “DoD is confident in the JEDI award. The source selection process was conducted in accordance with the stated criteria in the solicitation and procurement law. Our focus continues to be on getting the warfighters these much needed capabilities as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Jassy repeated almost word for word previous statements that cite AWS customers reporting back to the company it has the superior cloud service.
Any "truly objective and detailed apples-to-apples comparison of platforms" would land at a different vendor, he said, noting customers tell AWS that it's a couple years ahead of competitors in regard to functionality and maturity.
After combating Oracle's attempt to scuttle the RFP process in a federal court when AWS looked to be the front-runner, AWS filed its own lawsuit last month arguing Trump interfered with the source-selection process because of antipathy toward Bezos stemming from the Amazon CEO's ownership of the Washington Post newspaper.
While that lawsuit is still under seal, a filing in the case references four videos submitted as exhibits, including two of Donald Trump, as a candidate and then president.
The first video takes place at a Trump campaign rally in 2016, during which then-candidate Trump claimed Bezos' bought the Washington Post to have political influence in benefit of Amazon.
"If I become president, oh do they have problems, they're going to have such problems," Trump said in Texas.
The second video is of the press conference at the White House, where Trump noted the complaints of AWS competitors.
"Great companies are complaining about it like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM," Trump said in July.
By that point, Oracle and IBM had been eliminated from consideration for failure to meet some requirements established by military officials. Those "gate criteria" remain a focus of a legal challenge mounted against the federal government that Oracle lost but has since appealed. AWS voluntarily joined that case a co-defendant.
AWS competitors were saying the contract "having to do with the cloud," Trump said, which at the time was still a contest between AWS and Microsoft, wasn't competitively bid.
A third video was of testimony Defense CIO Dana Deasy gave to the Senate Armed Services Committee in October. At that hearing, Senator Angus King asked about President Trump's "antipathy" to Amazon, including reports that Trump told former Defense Secretary James Mattis to "screw Amazon."
Deasy, however, defended the process, saying his team was organized so no would was swayed by political influence, and the source selection was not influenced by pressure from the White House.
The final video was of a segment aired in July on Fox News that argued the contract was rigged in favor of AWS. Fox host Steve Hilton dubbed the still-pending selection process as "The Bezos Bailout."
David Harris contributed to this report.