President Donald Trump’s incessant belligerence has sparked yet another round of legal mayhem for his administration. As part of a lawsuit that Amazon brought alleging that they’d been improperly denied a contract to develop cloud computing for the Department of Defense, the Jeff Bezos-led company has demanded a deposition from Trump himself, who they allege improperly interfered in the process to exclude them from the contract. Trump has developed a long public feud with Amazon concurrent to Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post, whose coverage of his administration he has consistently flipped out over.
In this case, the $10 billion cloud computing contract went to Microsoft, despite apparent wide industry expectations that Amazon would get the grant thanks to their apparent leadership in the field. Amazon is now definitively insisting that Trump’s inappropriate political intervention kept them from the job and suing for restitution.
Asking the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for permission to depose not just Trump but current Defense Secretary Mark Esper and his predecessor James Mattis as well, Amazon shared in a newly public court filing:
‘President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use his position as President and Commander in Chief to disrupt the orderly administration of government functions, including federal procurements, to advance personal motives.’
Amazon said that they would work to “develop appropriate protocols and safeguards” for the deposition of Trump, if they get a greenlight to proceed. On Monday, an Amazon Web Services spokesperson added:
‘The preservation of public confidence in the nation’s procurement process requires discovery and supplementation of the administrative record, particularly in light of President Trump’s order to ‘screw Amazon.’.. The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of the DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends.’
A former speechwriter for Mattis revealed that apparent behind-the-scenes order to “screw” Amazon from the president.
It’s unclear whether a president has ever before been deposed as part of any kind of similar challenge to a government contract by a spurned company, but this situation is not the first in which Trump’s political inclinations have been alleged to weigh on similar government actions covering big business. Trump maintained a long streak of public animosity towards a plan for AT&T to purchase Time Warner, which owned CNN — another frequent presidential target. The Justice Department eventually sued in an attempt to block the merger (which eventually went through), and reports even swirled at one point that the administration would get out of the way specifically if CNN was sold off separately. Trump wanted to use the power of the presidency to keep basic business resources away from the network.
The power grab mirrors what drove his impeachment, which included a charge of abuse of power. Trump has consistently worked to use the powers of the presidency for personal ends.
Voters will get a chance to vote that abuse of power out of office this November. The next votes in the Democratic presidential primary will be cast on Tuesday in New Hampshire.