AWS Launches JEDI Cloud Counteroffensive

The cloud leader is arguing that President Donald Trump exerted political influence on the military’s selection process for a cloud computing vendor out of antipathy stemming from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Washington Post


Amazon Web Services has launched its counteroffensive against the Pentagon's decision to award the JEDI cloud computing contract to Microsoft, arguing President Donald Trump torpedoed its bid for the lucrative defense engagement.

"We obviously believe that it wasn’t adjudicated fairly," AWS CEO Andy Jassy told SiliconANGLE on Monday in regard to the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure initiative to transform military IT infrastructure through a commercial cloud provider.

After combating Oracle's attempt to scuttle the contract in a federal court, AWS filed its own lawsuit last week arguing the United States president interfered with the source-selection process because of antipathy toward Jeff Bezos stemming from the Amazon CEO's ownership of the Washington Post newspaper.

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CRN has reached out to AWS for comment.

[Related: The JEDI Cloud History: From A Cloud Goal To A Microsoft Win]

While that lawsuit is still under seal, a filing in the case references four videos as evidence, including two of Donald Trump, as a candidate and then president.

"I think there was a significant amount of political interference," Jassy said in the SiliconANGLE interview.

The first video submitted as an exhibit by AWS 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.

Senator Angus King asked Deasy 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.

Another video is 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."

Jassy told SiliconANGLE his company lost the deal to Microsoft because of the campaign evidenced by those exhibits.

"When you have a sitting president of the country who is very open about his disdain for a company and the leader of that company, it makes it really hard for government agencies like the DOD to be able to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal," Jassy said.

"I think that’s really risky for our country and for our democracy," Jassy added.

Had there been no interference, Jassy said AWS would have won JEDI.

"In any objective apples-to-apples comparison of our platform versus others, you don’t end up, with the conclusion that they made," he said of the final decision.