Amazon asks court to halt Microsoft's work on Pentagon 'war cloud'

Amazon on Wednesday asked a U.S. federal court to stop Microsoft from working with the Pentagon to implement a $10 billion cloud-computing contract, arguing that the project should be put on hold until the courts work out whether Microsoft deserved to receive the lucrative deal. 

Amazon is suing the Department of Defense (DOD) over allegations that it allowed President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE to exert "improper influence" over the contract process, ultimately steering the cloud-computing project away from the online retail giant and towards Microsoft. Amazon was the clear front-runner in the competition before Trump began intervening in the process over the summer. 

Even as Amazon sues in federal court, Microsoft and the Pentagon have been forging ahead to lay the groundwork for the enormous cloud-computing project. But Amazon says it's improper for the deal to move forward until the U.S. Court of Federal Claims makes the final call.

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"It is common practice to stay contract performance while a protest is pending and it’s important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the JEDI award decision be reviewed," an Amazon Web Services spokesperson said late Wednesday night, adding the company "is absolutely committed to supporting the DoD's modernization efforts and to an expeditious legal process that resolves this matter as quickly as possible." 

The cloud-computing contract, dubbed the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract — or JEDI — is worth up to $10 billion and will enable one company to develop the cloud infrastructure across the Defense Department. The contract will allow Microsoft to develop cloud-computing infrastructure for the U.S. military for up to 10 years, ending in October 2029.

Amazon sued the Pentagon in the Court of Federal Claims when it lost to Microsoft last year, alleging the JEDI contract was not awarded legally and displayed clear bias against Amazon. The company is asking the court to overhaul the Pentagon's decision. 

But since that initial filing, Microsoft and the Pentagon have taken a few first steps toward implementing the new cloud-computing system. Microsoft and Pentagon officials met in Washington, D.C., in mid-December.

Now, Amazon says the company should not move forward until the court battle is resolved.   

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Amazon's case in the Court of Federal Claims is unprecedented as one of the largest companies in the country takes on the president himself over allegations of improper intervention and personal animus. In a court filing last year, Amazon alleged that Trump engaged in "public and behind-the-scenes attacks" to steer the contract away from Amazon Web Services out of spite for his "perceived political enemy," Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. 

"The publicly available record of President Trump's statements and actions demonstrates that he repeatedly attacked and vilified his perceived political enemy — Mr. Bezos, the founder and CEO of AWS's parent company, Amazon, and who separately owns the Washington Post and then intervened in this procurement process to thwart the fair administration of DoD's procurement of technology and services critical to the modernization of the U.S. military," Amazon wrote in the filing. 

Microsoft declined to comment on Thursday.

The Pentagon has insisted that the contract went to the more deserving company. 

In a statement, the Pentagon said it "remains confident in the JEDI award."

"The Department of Defense will continue to fight to put this urgently-needed capability into the hands of our men and women in uniform as quickly and efficiently as possible," a Pentagon spokesperson said.

Updated at 10:06 a.m.