Trump's feud with Amazon goes in a bizarre direction

An Amazon.com package is prepared for shipment in Palo Alto, Calif.
An Amazon.com package is prepared for shipment in Palo Alto, Calif.

On Wednesday, Axios reported that Donald Trump is preoccupied with the nation's largest online retailer. White House sources reportedly described the president as being "obsessed with Amazon."

Yesterday, he helped prove the point, publishing the latest in a series of tweets on the subject.

"I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, 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!"

As is too often the case, the president is badly confused. When Trump says, for example, that Amazon pays little or no taxes, that's plainly untrue. When Trump says Amazon is bad for the U.S. Postal Service, that's also wrong. In fact, the Washington Post published a fact-check on his tweet, and the piece went on for a while.

But the president publishing false claims is only part of the story here. There's ample evidence, for example, that Trump's animosity for Amazon has very little to do with the online outlet and quite a bit to do with the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

It's also of interest that the president appears to be spinning his wheels for no reason: Paul Waldman made a compelling case the other day that Trump's outrage about Amazon is ultimately pointless, since he's unlikely to do anything substantive to undermine the company.

But even putting all of that aside, let's not overlook the oddity of seeing a sitting president rail against a major American retailer -- again.

Let's not forget that just weeks into his presidency, Nordstrom, a prominent high-end retail chain, ended its business arrangement with Ivanka Trump. The company said the president's daughter's products simply weren't selling well.

Trump did not take the news well, insisting at the time that his daughter "has been treated so unfairly" by Nordstrom. Then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer characterized Nordstrom's decision as "an attack on his daughter."

Trump World clearly lost interest in Nordstrom and has shifted its focus back to Amazon, but none of this is normal. Sitting presidents aren't supposed to launch public offenses against major American retailers.