February 11, 2020

Amazon Web Services, Inc. is suing the Department of Defense (DOD) over its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract award to Microsoft Corporation based on what AWS alleges was a bad faith and biased evaluation. According to AWS, DOD officials unfairly evaluated AWS’s proposal because of Donald Trump’s personal bias against Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos. Given CREW’s substantial prior experience advocating for ethical government and tracking Trump’s ethics issues and conflicts of interest, CREW filed an amicus curiae brief in support of AWS’s motion to include for the court’s consideration additional evidence related to its claims of bias.  

The allegations of improper interference in the JEDI procurement parallel reports of Trump’s previous attempts to influence public procurements to advance his personal aims: the selection of Trump’s own National Doral to host the G-7 Summit, the abrupt change in plans for the development of FBI headquarters, and the award of a border wall construction contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. In each instance, and with JEDI if AWS’s allegations are true, Trump sought to directly influence individuals with supervisory power over the procurement—Secretary Esper and Secretary Mattis with respect to JEDI; Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney regarding the selection of Doral as the host for the G-7 Summit; the GSA Administrator overseeing the FBI headquarters relocation; and the head of the Army Corps of Engineers for the Fisher contract. Moreover, as with his public support for Doral during the G-7 procurement, Trump allegedly leveraged his social media platforms in order to make his preferences about Mr. Bezos and Amazon known. Such allegations raise serious concerns about lack of impartiality and unethical conduct during the JEDI procurement.

These incidents suggest that Trump has a pattern of interfering in federal procurement processes for his own political and personal gain. The court should have the full spectrum of evidence to determine if Trump in fact manipulated the JEDI procurement process to advance his own interests.

Read the amicus brief here.