WASHINGTON: PresidentDonald Trumpsaid he expects to get a report Thursday aboutOracle‘s bid for the Chinese-owned video-sharing appTikTokand admitted there is no legal path to lettingthe US Treasuryget a cut of the deal — a proposition experts had criticized as unprecedented and possibly illegal.
“I’m not prepared to sign off on anything. I have to see the deal,” Trump told White House reporters Wednesday evening about Oracle’s interest in TikTok.
Some in the US have raised concerns about the deal, fearing that ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese company that owns TikTok, would maintain access to information on the 100 million TikTok users in the United States.
“It has to be 100% as far as national security is concerned,” Trump said.
The president previously said that he would ban TikTok if it wasn’t sold to an American company. In an Aug. 6 order, Trump said TikTok “reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive,” is potentially a source for disinformation campaigns and “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”
TikTok maintains that it has not shared US user data with the Chinese government and would not do so, says it does not censor videos at the request of Chinese authorities and notes that moderators for US operations are led by a US team.
Trump said he was stunned to learn that the Treasury could not receive any payment in exchange for the US signing off on the deal.
“Amazingly, I find that you’re not allowed to do that,” Trump said. “If they’re willing to make big payments to the government they’re not allowed because … there’s no legal path to doing that. … How foolish can we (the United States) be?”
TikTok, which says it has 100 million users in the US and 700 million globally, is known for fun, goofy videos of dancing, lip-syncing, pranks and jokes. It’s also home to more political material, some of which is critical of Trump.
The Oracle arrangement, according to a person familiar with the matter who isn’t authorized to speak publicly, entrusts TikTok’s US user data to Oracle, which would oversee technical operations for TikTok in the US Oracle won’t develop code for the app, but will review it and updates to it.