Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Wednesday responded to Donald Trump’s accusations about the company and his decision to purchase The Washington Post, saying that Trump’s messages are “not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave.”
Trump has made repeated accusations against both Bezos, Amazon The Washington Post over the past several months. Most recently, the presidential candidate went on FOX News and said that Bezos is using his ownership of the Washington Post as a political tool to keep regulators and lawmakers from pursuing Amazon over antitrust and tax issues.
Bezos responded to Trump’s initial complaints on Twitter in December with a funny tweet, but on Wednesday the Amazon boss offered a more serious response to the accusations.
At an event hosted by The Washington Post today called Transformers, Post Editor Marty Baron interviewed Bezos on stage and asked him to respond to Trump’s comments.
“My initial reaction to something like that is to take it very lightly,” Bezos said. “But you know, if you reflect on it in the context of what I’ve just been saying, my view is, that’s not an appropriate way for a presidential candidate to behave.”
Baron then brought up Trump’s specific accusations, to which Bezos responded by saying he is “very, very comfortable with all of Amazon’s approaches and behaviors.”
“The way we pay taxes, the political positions we take — these are very focused on our business and I think highly appropriate,” Bezos said. “I have told you and told many other organizations, too, that I think a company like Amazon also deserves to be scrutinized and examined and criticized.
“And I have no worries about that, I have absolutely no worries. If someone wants to come and look at how we pay taxes … people are probably doing that all the time. It’s our job to do that right so that we can pass with flying colors that kind of scrutiny.”
Before answering the question about Trump’s comments, Bezos talked about the importance of free speech and freedom of the press in the U.S. as a way to appropriately examine and critique political leaders.
“We really have to think about the fact that we want a society where any of us, any individual in this country, any institution in this country, if they choose to, can scrutinize, examine and criticize an elected official — especially a candidate for the highest office in the most powerful country on earth,” he said. “It’s critical.”
Added Bezos: “I would also say we have fundamental laws and Constitutional rights in this country to free speech, but that’s not the whole reason that it works here. We also have cultural norms that support that, where you don’t have to be afraid of retaliation. And those culture norms are at least as important as the Constitution.”