As part of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ two-day trip to visit the giants of the tech industry, he has met with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whom President Donald Trump has accused of running the Washington Post as a tax shelter.
Mattis met with Bezos on Thursday, and toured the Amazon facilities in Seattle, Washington. This trip was also scheduled to include a stop in Mountain View, California, later in the day, according to Reuters. “A pleasure to host #SecDef James Mattis at Amazon HQ in Seattle today,” Bezos wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
While in Mountain View, Mattis will tour the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Experimental Unit (DIUx), a post set up in 2015 by Mattis’ predecessor, Ash Carter. The unit is being used as a way to funnel civilian technology to the Defense Department for military use.
When Mattis was asked if he saw the value in DIUx, he said, “I want to see results. I want to see what they’re doing with their location and the ideas that they’re bringing, they’re harvesting – what are we getting out of it?” The Hill reported. “I’m not coming out here questioning the mission, I think, is what – is what you’re asking, though,” Mattis added.
In late July, Trump lashed out at Bezos and the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, due to the Post’s criticism of his handling of a CIA program that supplied weapons to Syrian rebels. “The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad,” Trump said in a tweet.
The same day, Trump continued with the negative tweets against Bezos’ companies: “So many stories about me in the [Washington Post] are Fake News. They are as bad as ratings challenged [CNN]. Lobbyist for Amazon and taxes?”
Trump began targeting Amazon during his campaign for president in December 2015.
After a story was published in the Washington Post about fake Time magazine covers hung up in some of the president’s golf clubs, Trump lashed out again at Amazon and claimed that Bezos is not paying internet taxes. “To me it is honestly just noise,” Michael Lippert, the manager of Baron Funds Portfolio, which owns shares of Amazon, said, CNBC reported.
Bezos has not responded to the criticism. Mattis was due to finish out his trip on Friday in Palo Alto, California, where he will tour Alphabet’s Google facilities.