Jul 25, 2019

GOP congressmen pressure Trump to delay $10 billion defense contract

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

A dozen Republican members of Congress sent President Trump a previously undisclosed letter on Tuesday urging him to delay the Pentagon's plan to award a $10 billion cloud computing contract to a single company.

Why it matters: The letter, obtained by Axios, argues that awarding the contract would be "premature" given the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General is still investigating potential conflicts of interest with those involved in the negotiations. The letter strikes a contrast with a ruling from a federal judge earlier this month, which found that allegations that DOD employees unfairly favored Amazon Web Services for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing program were meritless.

  • It's also at odds with a letter from 4 GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee last week, which urged Trump to let the contract move forward.

Context: Last week, Trump told reporters he would ask the Pentagon to look "very closely" at the contract, adding that he was getting "tremendous complaints" about it.

  • His comments followed a series of letters from prominent congressmen, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), pressuring the administration to rethink the contract.
  • Several military and civilian IT executives from DOD and throughout government have also released a report criticizing the JEDI proposal.

Read the letter:

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Senate Democrats' request to probe WH security clearances rejected by watchdog

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration's intelligence watchdog rejected Senate Democrats' request to investigate the White House's handling of security clearances for employees including senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, a letter obtained by NBC News Wednesday shows.

Details: In the July 22 letter, Michael Atkinson, inspector general of the intelligence community, told the Democrats he could only investigate the issue if the president requested it. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, and 3 other top Democrats sent President Trump a letter Wednesday, asking him to order a probe.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

70 mayors warn Trump's planned food stamps cuts will harm economies

Lazarus House Ministries morning soup kitchen on Aug. 16 in Lawrence, Mass. 36% of residents there receive SNAP aid. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a bipartisan letter Wednesday signed by 70 mayors stating their "strong opposition" to Trump administration plans t0 cut 3.1 million people from a food stamps program.

Why it matters: In the letter to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Associate Administrator Jessica Shahin, the mayors warn that changes to the program would harm local and regional economies and have a devastating impact on the vulnerable Americans.

Go deeperArrowAug 21, 2019

FedEx ends Amazon ground deliveries

A FedEx warehouse in Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

FedEx said Wednesday that it will not renew its U.S. ground delivery contract with Amazon, Bloomberg first reported.

The big picture: The shipping giant's decision, coupled with its move just weeks ago to end its contract to transport Amazon packages by air, comes as Amazon transforms from a customer to a competitor. The e-commerce company is adding trucks, planes, employees and even an air hub to strengthen its logistics arm — directly targeting the big U.S. shippers.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019