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Amazon Executive’s Comments Draw Ire of President Trump’s Son

Spencer Soper

(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc.’s top spokesman Jay Carney criticized the administration of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, questioning the patriotism and honesty of the current White House and criticizing it for trying to influence the Federal Reserve. His comments drew the attention of Trump’s son, and Carney responded by praising government officials on Thursday.

In a 30-minute interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Carney drew distinctions between the current administration and those of former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton. Carney used to be Obama’s press secretary and worked as a political reporter before that.

“Virtually with no exception, everyone I dealt with in those administrations, whether I personally agreed or disagreed with what they thought were the right policy decisions or the right way to approach things, I never doubted that they were patriots,” he said. “I don’t feel that way now.”

Carney also said he never lied on behalf of the White House and “there doesn’t seem to be that standard today.”

On Wednesday, Carney added that it was “drummed into his head” as a government official not to mention interest rates or decisions made by the Federal Reserve. “I guess they didn’t get that memo in the current White House,” he said. Trump has railed against the Fed this year for not cutting interest rates more.

Carney, who joined Amazon in 2015, frequently tweets about his time in the Obama administration. But Amazon itself tries to keep out of hot-button political issues. Carney’s comments on Wednesday stoked tension between Amazon and Trump’s circle. The president has long denounced Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos in tweets, criticizing him for the rates the e-commerce giant pays the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages and Bezos’s ownership of what Trump calls “the Amazon Washington Post.”

On Thursday morning, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted news reports of Carney’s comments to his 3.9 million followers and asked if this was Amazon’s official stance.

Within an hour of that tweet, Carney praised government officials on Twitter: “I have enormous faith in and respect for the countless patriots throughout the US gov’t.”

(Updates with reaction from Trump’s son and another statement from Carney)

To contact the reporter on this story: Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Spencer Soper, Alistair Barr

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