Report: Trump Pressuring Pentagon To Give No-Bid 5G Contract To GOP-Linked Firm
President Donald Trump is dialing up pressure on the Department of Defense to grant what is effectively a no-bid contract for its valuable mid-band wireless spectrum to the company Rivada Networks — a company who counts prominent Republicans and Trump supporters among its investors.
- Those investors include Fox News regular and veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove, who is also a lobbyist for Rivada, and Trump enthusiast Peter Thiel.
- CNN reports that senior administration officials from various departments and agencies are alarmed by the “pressure campaign to fast track Rivada's ‘Request for Proposal’ (RFP) by using authorities that would preclude a competitive bidding process intensified in September.”
- White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reportedly has led the effort on behalf of Trump and “has sometimes used as his proxy an individual identified by sources in the telecommunications industry as a top financial management official in the US Army.”
- CNN noted that "Untold billions are at stake."
A government auction of 70 megahertz of spectrum in August went for more than $4.5 billion. The Rivada bid would be for 350 megahertz of spectrum -- five times that amount.
- One senior official told the news outlet that awarding the deal to Rivada would be "the biggest handoff of economic power to a single entity in history.”
Craig Moffett, a highly regarded Wall Street analyst of the telecommunications sector, concluded in a October 7 research paper: "The whole story smacks of cronyism at best and reeks of 'the swamp' at worst."
- Rove denied that Rivada is after an RFP or any type of non-competitive process, saying the company would turn down a no-bid offer if it were made. “The technology should stand on its own,” he told CNN.
- Likewise, a “spokesman for Rivada denies that the company is pursuing a non-competitive RFP,” CNN reported, saying: "We have always advocated for a competitive process."
Pentagon leaders are resisting the move, sources tell CNN, since they are concerned that this is being rushed without thoroughly vetting the impact it could have on military readiness. Pentagon lawyers have told the White House that their department has no authority to issue RFPs for the purpose of leasing or selling off its spectrum, and they think that to do so in the manner the White House is pushing would be a complete deviation from normal rules and regulations.