The Trump administration may leverage an emergency coronavirus loan to force the U.S. Postal Service to raise prices on delivering packages, among other major changes, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. Trump has repeatedly blamed Amazon for damaging the USPS by paying below-market rates for last-mile package delivery. The Postal Service has been resistant to raising those rates, but now that it’s in need of a $10 billion loan to stay afloat during the current economic collapse, Trump may finally have the bargaining chip he needs. He told reporters on Friday, “The Post Office is a joke. The Post Office should raise the price [of package delivery] four times.”
Though many e-commerce companies use USPS for package delivery, Amazon relies on the service more than its competitors do, which means a price hike would be particularly costly for the tech giant. But pressuring the Postal Service to raise delivery rates would only be the latest chapter in Trump’s long-running vendetta against Amazon and its CEO (and, crucially, Washington Post owner), Jeff Bezos, or as the president refers to him, “Jeff Bozo.” Here are some of the alleged and reported instances in which Trump has tried to penalize Amazon.
Doubling Postal Rates
This isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has looked to raise USPS prices on Amazon. The Washington Post reported in 2018 that the president had personally tried to convince Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double shipping rates for Amazon and other e-commerce companies over the course of multiple conversations, potentially costing them billions of dollars. Brennan reportedly resisted the entreaties and sent Trump a slide deck demonstrating how the USPS’s partnership with Amazon and other companies is mutually beneficial. She also informed him that the Postal Service is contractually obligated to abide by pricing agreements that have been reviewed by a regulatory commission.
The JEDI Contract
In October, the Department of Defense chose Microsoft over Amazon for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract for a cloud project to store sensitive information. The decision seemed fishy, as Amazon has long been considered the most dominant and sophisticated cloud provider. A speechwriter for Jim Mattis also wrote in a recent book that Trump had tried to pressure the former defense secretary to thwart Amazon by giving the contract to another company. Amazon filed a lawsuit in November to challenge the Pentagon’s selection process, alleging that Trump interfered and that there was “unmistakable bias” and “political influence.” The Pentagon said in a March court filing that it “wishes to reconsider” awarding Microsoft the contract.
The Washington Post
Trump has directed much of his ire on Twitter toward the Washington Post, accusing Bezos of influencing the direction of the coverage to hurt his administration. The president has claimed that the newspaper is biased against him because of a 2018 Supreme Court case that allowed state governments to demand that customers outside their borders pay taxes on online sales, which hurt Amazon’s stock prices. To that particular allegation, the Post responded: “The Washington Post operates with complete independence in making all news and editorial decisions. We alone decide what to publish. It is preposterous and disingenuous to suggest that The Post is used to advance Jeff’s other commercial interests.” Trump is additionally fond of referring to the newspaper as the “Amazon Washington Post” when attacking its coverage.
In fall 2018, Trump told Axios that his administration was looking into Amazon, Facebook, and Google for potential antitrust violations. (Trump has accused Google and Facebook of censoring conservative content.) “I leave it to others, but I do have a lot of people talking about monopoly when they mention those three in particular,” he said. The following summer, the Department of Justice announced that it was opening a broad antitrust review of the three companies and Apple, causing their shares to fall. (Meanwhile, while Trump likes to needle Amazon in some areas, his administration seems to ignore other common criticisms of the company, such as its treatment of warehouse workers.) The antitrust probe is still ongoing.