Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is refusing to meet with White House adviser Peter Navarro and the trade czar is “fuming,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday. It’s the latest feud in the never-ending saga of beef between Bezos and Donald Trump, who has leveled ongoing Twitter tirades against Amazon and the Bezos-owned Washington Post since 2016.
According to the Post’s report, Navarro approached Bezos at an opulent Alfalfa Club dinner in Washington, DC last month in hopes of securing a meeting with the chief executive to discuss counterfeit products on his platform. The company has long struggled with counterfeit listings, and works with US Customs in taking down the listings when they are identified.
Bezos reportedly responded, saying “‘Just call Jay Carney; tell him we’ll meet. We’ll get it done.” Carney is a former press secretary to President Barack Obama who now works in communications at Amazon. Over the past few weeks, Amazon has repeatedly offered Navarro meetings with other senior-level company executives, but not Bezos.
These denials have enraged Navarro. He told the Post yesterday that the main reason he wants to meet with Bezos is because he could “in the blink of an eye, put a complete halt to the counterfeiting” taking place on the Amazon platform. “It’s a rare occurrence where a single individual can have an enormous impact on the issue — but so far, it’s ‘see no evil,’” Navarro continued.
Then, of course, what could have been one day of headlines has rolled into two as Bezos himself took to Instagram to respond to the drama kicked off by Navarro, polling his followers on how he should have responded without naming the adviser.
Let’s say you’re at a big cocktail party and someone you don’t know comes up to you while you’re talking to your dad and girlfriend and asks for a meeting. Let’s say this person is the kind of person who actually uses the word ‘minions’ to describe the people who work for you.”
One commenter speaks for us all, writing, “Prime Now me out of here.”
Emily Birnbaum of The Hill asked Navarro on Thursday how he felt about Bezos’s Instagram message about him, and he responded:
A wonderfully banal passive aggressive post from the would-be author of ‘Zen and the Art of Counterfeit Trafficking.’ Simply meeting with a White House representative to discuss a very serious issue would have be so much more constructive.
It’s not the first time Bezos has been ensnared in controversy created by members of the Trump administration. President Trump himself frequently attacks the Washington Post for being owned by Bezos and curses the billionaire on Twitter. Amazon is also in the middle of an enormous federal lawsuit, challenging the administration’s decision to award a $10 billion Pentagon contract to Microsoft.
Update 2/6/20 at 6:48 p.m.: Shortly after publication, an Amazon spokeswoman told The Verge, “Senior Amazon executives met with administration officials, including Mr. Navarro, on multiple occasions to discuss our shared goal of combatting counterfeit goods. We are eager to continue this collaboration and will make our executives available to meet as often as necessary to effectively address the issue.