Conspiracy Theory

Lobbyists Are Feeding Conspiracy Theories Directly to Trump

Written by SK Ashby

Trump recently said that he would order the government to apply new scrutiny to a possible cloud computing contract between the Department of Defense and Amazon and now we know why he said that.

Trump probably doesn't even know what cloud computing is or what it's for, but he hates Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who also owns the Washington Post and Trump hates the Washington Post because the paper is not sufficiently deferential to him.

And everyone knows Trump hates Jeff Bezos including lobbyists from rival cloud computing companies who tried and failed to challenge Amazon's bid for the contract in court.

A federal judge threw out claims made by rival cloud services company Oracle, which accused Amazon of arriving at the final stage of bidding for the defense contract through favoritism, but a flimsy conspiracy theory constructed by Oracle's top lobbyist still made it to Trump's desk before he said he wanted Amazon's bid investigated.

White House officials have reportedly shown Trump documents and charts from Oracle's top lobbyist, Kenneth Glueck, which map out an alleged conspiracy between Amazon and current and former defense officials including former secretaries of defense.

From CNN:

The document contains a flow chart titled "A Conspiracy to Create a Ten Year DoD Cloud Monopoly," and provides a visual representation of a narrative that Oracle has been pushing for months -- that a web of individuals inside and outside the Defense Department were greasing the wheels for Amazon to win a cloud computing contract known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI). Oracle's own bid did not make it to the final stage.

The chart features the faces of a number of former Pentagon officials, current Amazon employees and executives, as well as consultants working on behalf of Amazon, connecting them together in a criss-cross of business and professional ties. The version shown to the President includes photographs of the previous two secretaries of Defense, Ash Carter (featured alongside President Obama) and Trump's former Defense Secretary, James Mattis.

With images of dollar signs, arrows, and a heart linking the various figures, the chart leaves the overall impression of corruption and conflicted interests. A blown-up copy of the chart is visible from the street, perched in Glueck's window at Oracle's K Street office in downtown Washington. But while the chart is heavy on graphics and innuendo, there is no specific charge of wrongdoing.

For his part, Glueck spoke to CNN and denied that he passed the conspiracy theory along to Trump, but he also said he's "not upset that it's in front of him."

This wouldn't be the first time Trump has specifically singled out Amazon just because he hates Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post. Trump also claimed that Amazon takes advantage of the US Postal Service even though the postal service largely depends on the business of companies like Amazon who pay the postal service to handle small packages.

Virtually everyone reading this probably has their own opinions of Amazon whether good or bad, but Trump doesn't share any of them. Trump doesn't share your potential concerns about labor practices or the ethics of facial recognition technology. Trump also probably hasn't shopped for himself in 40 years (if he literally ever has) so he doesn't even know the joys of free shipping. This is personal for Trump and the "president" should not target specific companies for personal reasons. No lawmaker should.

Microsoft is also a finalist for the defense contract alongside Amazon, but there is no conflict of personality between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Trump for rival lobbyists to exploit with absurd flow charts.

When asked by a reporter about the contract during a July 18 appearance in the Oval Office with the prime minister of the Netherlands, Trump said, he'd been getting "tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon," including from Microsoft, Oracle and IBM.

"Great companies are complaining about it," Trump said. "So we're going to take a look at it. We'll take a very strong look at it."