U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday rejected allegations by Amazon that it lost out on a lucrative Pentagon project for political reasons.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, MARK ESPER, SAYING:
"As you know I recused myself from involvement on the competition, but I am confident that it was conducted freely and fairly without any type of outside influence."
Amazon cried foul after the government awarded a $10 billion dollar cloud computing contract to rival Microsoft.
President Donald Trump has long criticized Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos.
Amazon filed notice last week saying it would formally protest the decision and in a company-wide meeting this week - Amazon Web Services' CEO Andy Jassy said awarding a contract objectively would be challenging for an agency when the president is disparaging one of the applicants.
The project, known as Jedi, is part of a broad digital modernization initiative by the Pentagon.
In a new book, a former navy commander recounts a tale where Trump called then-defense secretary Jim Mattis and directed him to "screw Amazon" by preventing it from bidding on the Jedi contract.
"We're not going to do that," Mattis later told Pentagon officials, according to the book.
His successor, Mark Esper, recused himself because his son works at IBM, one of the original contract applicants.