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Trump tweet highlights complex relationship with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

White House vs. the media

President Trump lashed out at the Washington Post in a tweet Wednesday morning calling the paper "FAKE NEWS!" and linked it to tech giant Amazon as a "guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes."

The message comes a day after the Washington Post, owned privately by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and not Amazon itself, published a story about fake Trump TIME covers hung at various Trump properties.

"Tweets speak for themselves," Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in response to queries about the tweet's meaning. But as with many of Mr. Trump's tweets, it's not totally clear what he specifically meant.  

If he was tweeting about sales taxes, Mr. Trump would be incorrect in saying that Amazon isn't paying taxes. Since April, Amazon has been collecting sales tax from states. In the past, Amazon had tried to avoid collecting and remitting sales taxes because it gave the internet retailer a competitive advantage over brick and mortar retailers.

Tension continues to grow between the White House and media

Mr. Trump has called out a number of news organizations, particularly in recent days, for being "fake."

He and his aides have trained their focus on CNN over a story led to the resignation this week of three employees, and a video released by conservative activist James O'Keefe's group, Project Veritas, that purports to show a CNN producer undermining the network's editorial decisions about the Russia investigation.

But this particular tweet puts into the spotlight the complicated relationship the president seems to have with Amazon CEO Bezos, who purchased the Post in 2013. The Amazon-Washington Post link became a target of then-candidate Trump's tirades during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump blasted Bezos and claimed the tech CEO wanted political influence that Amazon could benefit from.

"Believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems," Mr. Trump said at a rally in April, 2016. "They're going to have such problems." He also, at the time, accused Bezos of using his ownership of the Washington Post to protect Amazon from taxes.

Bezos had suggested Trump's campaign rhetoric was "eroding our democracy."

Then, at a tech gathering at Trump Tower during the transition in December, Bezos introduced himself as someone who is "super excited about the possibilities this could be the innovation administration" and appeared to have a positive outlook after his meeting. In a statement to Business Insider at the time, Bezos said his meeting was "very productive."

This month, Bezos participated in Mr. Trump's roundtable with the American Technology Council at the White House and applauded the administration's work in technological innovation. He encouraged using commercial technology to save money and develop artificial intelligence to improve government services.

A representative from Amazon did not immediately respond to questions about Bezos's reaction to Wednesday's tweet.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment about the nature of Bezos's and Trump's relationship.

And it remains unclear what "problems" candidate Trump meant Amazon would have during his presidency.

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