President Donald Trump escalated his assault on Amazon.com on Saturday, accusing the online retail giant of a “Post Office scam” and falsely stating that The Washington Post operates as a lobbyist for Amazon.
In a pair of morning tweets sent during his drive from his Mar-a-Lago estate to the nearby Trump International Golf Club, the president argued that Amazon costs the U.S. Postal Service billions of dollars in potential revenue.
Trump has repeatedly advanced this theory, even though officials have explained to him that Amazon’s contracts with the Postal Service are profitable for the agency.
The president also incorrectly conflated Amazon with The Post and made clear that his attacks on the retailer were inspired by his disdain for the newspaper’s coverage. He labeled the newspaper “the Fake Washington Post” and demanded that it register as a lobbyist for Amazon. The Post is personally owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, and operates independently of Amazon.
In Trump’s first of two tweets about Amazon, sent at 8:45 a.m., he wrote: “While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars. The Failing N.Y. Times reports that ‘the size of the company’s lobbying staff has ballooned,’ and that...”
The president continued with a tweet sent seven minutes later: "...does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a ‘lobbyist’ and should so REGISTER. If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.’ This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”
Trump also criticized California Gov. Jerry Brown, D, for pardoning five ex-convicts facing deportation. He tagged Fox News Channel in his tweet, indicating his comment was inspired by a segment he had watched on the network.
Trump tweeted, “Governor Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown pardoned 5 criminal illegal aliens whose crimes include (1) Kidnapping and Robbery (2) Badly beating wife and threatening a crime with intent to terrorize (3) Dealing drugs. Is this really what the great people of California want? @FoxNews.”
Trump is typically motivated to lash out at Amazon because of The Post’s coverage of him, officials have said. One person who has discussed the matter repeatedly with the president explained that a negative story in The Post is almost always the catalyst for one of his Amazon rants.
The Post on Friday afternoon published online an exhaustive account of the Trump Organization’s finances being “under unprecedented assault” because of three different legal inquiries: special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation; a $130,000 payment allegedly to secure the silence of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels over a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump; and lawsuits alleging that Trump is improperly accepting gifts, or “emoluments,” from foreign or state governments through his businesses.
Trump is known to react especially sensitively to news stories about his personal and business affairs.
Saturday morning marked the second time in three days that Trump attacked Amazon. On Thursday, the president tweeted that “they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”
In fact, Amazon does collect taxes on products it sells to customers in the 45 states that have sales taxes, although items sold by third-party vendors may have different arrangements.
Beyond Trump’s use of his bully pulpit to attack Amazon, the White House has indicated that there are no plans to take action against the company.
Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One on Thursday, “The president has expressed his concerns with Amazon. We have no actions at this time.”
But White House officials have struggled to back up Trump’s theories about the retailer. Asked why Trump thinks Amazon is hurting the Postal Service when experts say it ships so many packages it helps keep the Postal Service in business, Walters offered no explanation.
Still, Trump’s attacks, irrespective of their factual accuracy, could hurt public confidence in the company. After Axios reported Wednesday that Trump was “obsessed” with Amazon, the company’s shares fell more than 4 percent. They continued their decline Thursday, when Trump tweeted, falling more than 3.8 percent in morning trading.
The share price recovered once Walters said there were “no actions at this time,” and it was up 1.1 percent for the day by the close of trading.
The Washington Post’s Abha Bhattarai in Washington contributed to this report.