Amazon offer to aid Biden administration with coronavirus vaccine distribution irks Republicans

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Amazon has offered to assist President Biden in distributing coronavirus vaccines, raising questions about whether the company put politics over people’s lives in dealing with the Trump administration.

Conservatives ripped into Amazon, saying that the company let its gripes with former President Donald Trump trample vaccine distribution.

Amazon disputes those claims.

Moments after Mr. Biden‘s inauguration on Wednesday, Amazon publicized a letter it sent to the new president that said it “stands ready to assist” the incoming Democratic administration to get vaccines to people in need.

“We are prepared to move quickly once vaccines are available,” Dave Clark, chief executive of the company’s consumer business, wrote in the letter. “Additionally, we are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts. Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ high-profile feud with Mr. Trump left many conservatives to conclude that Amazon withheld assistance from Americans because of politics. Mr. Bezos owns The Washington Post, a newspaper that has been highly critical of Mr. Trump and his administration.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was not sure how to hold Amazon accountable for its actions but thought the company’s behavior was “pretty disgusting” if it deliberately withheld assistance.

“I think it’s pretty bad. If they had this capability, they should have shared it with the Trump administration,” the South Carolina Republican told Fox News. “Here’s what I think: The drug companies had the vaccine, they knew it was going to work days before the election, they waited until after the election to announce it. I think if it’d been a Democratic president, they would have announced it before the election.”

Amazon told The Washington Times that the company had tried to work with the Trump administration.

The executives said they offered assistance to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in vaccinating Amazon employees, entered talks with agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, and participated in the White House’s High Performance Computing Consortium to help solve COVID-19 problems.

When Rep. Ken Buck, Colorado Republican, tagged Mr. Bezos on Twitter and asked why he waited to assist with vaccine distribution, Amazon responded.

“Actually, we didn’t wait,” tweeted Amazon via its @amazon_policy account. “We offered the Trump administration assistance on vaccines, built new tools for researchers & public health authorities, engaged Operation Warp Speed on logistics & advised on testing, & flew in [personal protective equipment] from China when America needed it most.”

The same Twitter account posted a December 2020 letter from Mr. Clark to the CDC that said Amazon stood ready to provide assistance that would benefit the company’s employees and other essential workers.

Many of Mr. Trump‘s supporters are not buying it. They viewed Amazon‘s sudden interest in vaccine distribution as a consequence of Mr. Bezos’ anti-Trump politics.

“American lives are important now that Biden is president for everyone,” tweeted “Chicks on the Right” radio hosts Amy Jo Clark and Miriam Weaver. “Remember that Amazon only cares about you [when] there’s a woke guy in charge that they need to make look good.”

Mr. Bezos’ beef with Mr. Trump is well-documented and colored much of Amazon‘s relationship with federal officials for the last four years.

The Seattle company pursued a multibillion-dollar cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon and was widely considered the front-runner. The Trump administration snubbed Amazon and instead picked Microsoft for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, alternatively known as the JEDI Cloud. Amazon complained that the decision was the result of Mr. Trump‘s animus toward Amazon, but the Department of Defense stuck with Microsoft.

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