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Federal Judge Hands Amazon Another Procedural Win in Lawsuit Against Trump Admin


Jeff Bezos

A federal judge on Friday said Amazon was likely to win on the merits of its lawsuit against the Trump administration accusing President Donald Trump of improperly intervening in awarding the lucrative Defense Department (DoD) contract to one of its competitors.

In an 18-page opinion, Judge Patricia E. Campbell-Smith of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ordered the DoD to cease working on its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project with Microsoft, finding that the Department made a critical error when evaluating competing bid proposals put forth by the two tech giants.

“The court concludes that—based on the portions of the record cited by the parties and the arguments made thereon—plaintiff is likely to demonstrate that defendant erred in determining that intervenor-defendant’s Factor 5, Price Scenario 6 was ‘technically feasible’ according to the defined terms of the solicitation,” Campbell-Smith wrote Friday.

The central issue of the controversy is whether the government properly evaluated Amazon and Microsoft’s competing bids for the JEDI contract that’s reportedly worth up to $10 billion.

Claiming the decision was not based on a dispassionate analysis of the bids, but on President Trump’s personal disdain for CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon filed a 103-page lawsuit late last year.

The filing alleged that President Trump’s long-running feud with Bezos’s Washington Post newspaper prompted the 45th president to unfairly single out Amazon and award the JEDI contract to Microsoft instead–citing Trump’s “repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks.” To Amazon’s benefit, the judge previously halted Microsoft’s work on the JEDI project until this dispute is settled.

Amazon’s attorneys framed the fundamental issue in the following terms: “The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends.”

Frank X. Shaw, a spokesperson for Microsoft, downplayed the court’s decision in an email to the Washington Post, saying the ruling only focused on a single technical factor regarding pricing.

“The decision disagreed with a lone technical finding by the Department of Defense about data storage under the evaluation of one sub-element of one price scenario,” Shaw wrote. “While important, there were six pricing scenarios, each with multiple sub-elements, and eight technical factors, each with numerous subfactors evaluated during the procurement. The decision does not find error in the Department of Defense’s evaluation in any other area of the complex and thorough process that resulted in the award of the contract to Microsoft.”

A spokesman for the DoD said the department was disappointed in the court’s ruling.

“We remain focused on getting this critical capability into the hands of our warfighters as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Lt. Col. Robert Carver wrote in an email to the Washington Post.

Read the full decision below:

Amazon Order by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.