President Trump has questioned Chinese firm ByteDance’s plans to keep a majority stake in TikTok as part of a deal with Oracle.
When asked about the proposal to only give Oracle a minority share in the deal, Trump said: “Conceptually I can tell you that I don’t like that,” adding: “I’m not prepared to sign off on anything. They’re going to be reporting to me tomorrow morning and I’ll let you know.”
Trump said that although he did not like the idea of having ByteDance retain control, he would be briefed on the proposals for Oracle to become a ‘trusted technology provider’ later in the week.
“It has to be 100% as far as national security is concerned,” said Trump. “I have to see the deal.”
The president also stated his shock that Washington could not exchange approval of any agreement for cash. “Amazingly I find that you’re not allowed to do that,” he said. “What kind of a thing is this?”
Trump has threatened to ban the app altogether unless ByteDance sells its US operations to a US company with the US government receiving a cut of the profits.
The first senator who called on the US government to investigate the app, Marco Rubio, voiced ‘serious concerns’ over Oracle’s role in a letter to Trump.
“We remain opposed to any deal that would allow China-based or controlled entities to retain, control or modify the code or algorithms that operate any US-based version of TikTok,” Rubio wrote.
“We are heartened that this deal still requires government approval, and if reports indicating this proposed deal will retain links to ByteDance or other Chinese-controlled entities, we strongly urge the administration to reject such a proposal on national security grounds.”
In a separate letter, Senator Ted Cruz criticised the deal saying that it “failed to meet the intent of the president’s executive orders” and “raises serious national security concerns”.
Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary, told reports that a decision would be made ‘in short order’. Larry Kudlow, economic adviser to the White House, said that the questions of ownership and security were of grave concern.
Trump may not want to anger the 100million American users of TikTok so close to the November elections, however US national security officials fear that the Chinese company could pass on data on its American users to the Chinese government.
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