Amazon.com wants to depose US President Donald Trump over the technology company’s losing bid for a US$10-billion military contract. The Pentagon awarded the cloud computing project to Microsoft in October.
Amazon sued, arguing that Trump’s interference and bias against the company harmed Amazon’s chances of winning the contract.
The Pentagon was preparing to make its final decision when Trump publicly waded into the fray in July, saying he had heard complaints about the process and that the administration would “take a very long look”. He said other companies told him that the contract “wasn’t competitively bid”.
Amazon is looking for more information about what happened before and after that review, including an alleged comment that surfaced in a book last year that said Trump privately told then-defence secretary Jim Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the contract.
The company said in a federal court filing in Washington on Monday that Trump has a “well-documented personal animus towards” Amazon, its CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Mr Bezos owns.
Amazon said that Trump is the only who can give evidence about the “totality of his conversations and the overall message he conveyed” about the bidding process. It is also asking to depose Mattis, current defence secretary Mark Esper and other government officials in its filing with the US court of federal claims.
George Washington University procurement law expert Steve Schooner said a deposition of Trump would be “clearly relevant to the primary allegations underlying their lawsuit”, but that does not mean it will happen. “I can’t imagine this president sitting for that deposition,” Schooner said.
Amazon said in a statement that it is important to discover what happened to preserve public confidence in the procurement process because it claimed Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to interfere with government processes to advance his personal interests.
“The question is whether the president of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD (department of defence) to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the company said.