During a press conference earlier today, President Donald Trump admitted the United States government can’t actually profit off the sale of popular video app TikTok to an American company. The president had previously claimed that the Treasury Department would receive a “very big” payment in the event of a deal wherein the Chinese-owned TikTok or its assets are sold to an American tech company.
“Amazingly, I find that you’re not allowed to do that, you’re not allowed to accept money,” Trump said. “If they’re willing to make big payments to the government they’re not allowed because there’s no way of doing that, there’s no legal path to doing that.” He said he’d spoken with lawyers and told them he wanted “a big chunk of that money to go to the United States government because we made it possible” but that the legal team told him that would not be possible.
You can watch the moment from the press conference in the video below.
Trump says he's "not prepared to sign off on anything" for Oracle's potential partnership with TikTok, citing security concerns. He adds he's been told that he can't legally follow through on his demand for the U.S. Treasury to get a cut of the deal https://t.co/Nj065CIsxp pic.twitter.com/675sGOJ4Ag
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 16, 2020
Last month, TikTok sued the Trump’s administration, saying the president’s executive orders attempting to block it from conducting transactions within the United States targeted the company and denied it due process.
“We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees,” the company said in its suit. “Our more than 1,500 employees across the U.S. pour their hearts into building this platform every day,” the company said, noting that it planned to hire more than 10,000 more workers across eight states in the coming years.
TikTok says the Trump administration “failed to follow due process and act in good faith, neither providing evidence that TikTok was an actual threat, nor justification for its punitive actions.” Moreover, the company says that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s determination that TikTok posed a national security threat was based on “outdated news articles” and not on documentation TikTok provided outlining the security of user data.
Trump had earlier issued two executive orders to prohibit any transactions with WeChat or TikTok by any person or involving any property subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The president said WeChat, made by Tencent, and TikTok, made by ByteDance, were being used by the Chinese Communist Party to obtain Americans’ proprietary information, to surveil Chinese citizens abroad, and spearhead disinformation campaigns.
“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” the president wrote.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.