Judge halts Pentagon deal with Microsoft

Darnell Taylor
February 14, 2020

A United States federal court today slammed the brakes on the Pentagon's decision to award Microsoft the JEDI cloud mega-contract.

It's seeking testimony from the president and other top officials on the reasons for awarding the $10 billion, 10-year USA military cloud computing contract to Microsoft.

Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith issued a preliminary injunction but did not release her written opinion.

Amazon has alleged it was shut out of the deal because of President Donald Trump's vendetta and is seeking testimony from the president and other top officials on the reasons for awarding the $10 billion USA military cloud computing contract.

The project, known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, will store and process vast amounts of classified data, allowing the USA military to improve communications with soldiers on the battlefield and use artificial intelligence to speed up its war planning and fighting capabilities.

But government lawyers argued in a filing made public on Wednesday that Amazon's request to depose Trump was "particularly audacious" and unnecessary because the company had failed to offer enough evidence to support its claims of bias.

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"We believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft", he said. Earlier this week Amazon said it wanted the President to testify over how the contract was awarded.

It added it remained "confident in our award of the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft".

The US president has often attacked Amazon and boss Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper. A representative for Amazon didn't respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft VP of communications Frank Shaw said in a statement that the company was "disappointed with the additional delay", but expressed confidence that things would work out in the tech giant's favor.

In arguments making a case for Trump's deposition, Amazon sought to fit Trump's actions on the JEDI contract into a broader pattern of interference.

Amazon, which had been seen as a front-runner to win the contract, filed a lawsuit in November just weeks after the contract was awarded to Microsoft. Both the documents requesting the block and the judge's decision to issue the temporary injunction are sealed by the court.

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