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Donald Trump says he is still to sign off on TikTok deal over national security concerns

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was not ready to sign off on a deal for Oracle to buy TikTok from a Chinese parent company, citing both national security concerns and wanting to ensure the U.S. government gets its cut.

‘It has to be 100 percent as far as national security is concerned. No, I’m not prepared to sign off on anything. I have to see the deal,’ Trump said. ‘They going to be reporting to me tomorrow morning and I’ll let you know.’ 

He also said he was surprised to learn that the U.S. cannot take a cut of the TikTok deal and he’s going to have the government look into that. 

‘Amazingly, I find that you’re not allowed to do that,’ he said at his press conference when asked about payments to the Treasury Department for the sale, an idea he had pushed. ‘There is no way of doing that from – there is no legal path to doing that.’

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was not ready to sign off on a deal for Oracle to buy TikTok from a Chinese parent company

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was not ready to sign off on a deal for Oracle to buy TikTok from a Chinese parent company

Trump will get briefed on the matter by Treasury officials on Thursday morning. 

‘They are willing to make a big payment to the government and we are not allowed to take their money? When does this happen? How foolish can we be? We are looking into that right now. I said no, I want a big chunk of that money to go to the United States government because we made it possible,’ he complained.

‘The lawyers come back to me and say there is no way of doing that. You know why?’  he said. ‘Because nobody ever said we will approve the deal but we want a lot of money to go to the government. Because by approving the deal we are making the deal valuable. They had never heard of that before. Okay? Can you believe that?’

Trump said he also didn’t like that the U.S. purchasing company would have a minority stake in the Chinese venture. 

‘I don’t like that. That hasn’t been told to me yet. That has been reported but not told to me. It could be accurate reporting for a change. If that’s the case I’m not going be happy with that. Assuming ByteDance is China and I think it is,’ he said. 

The president’s words come after reports that Oracle’s bid to buy TikTok from Chinese parent ByteDance has reportedly fallen short of requirements from the Trump administration to resolve concerns that the video-sharing app represents a national security concern.

The proposed deal has drawn continuing concerns from national security officials that could sway Trump’s decision, people familiar with the deal told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. 

Oracle announced on Monday it was part of a proposal submitted by Bytedance to the U.S. Treasury Department to serve as ‘trusted technology provider,’ to Bytedance, providing no further details on the terms of the deal.  

Oracle's bid to buy TikTok from Chinese parent ByteDance has reportedly fallen short of requirements from the Trump administration to resolve national security concerns

Oracle’s bid to buy TikTok from Chinese parent ByteDance has reportedly fallen short of requirements from the Trump administration to resolve national security concerns

Marco Rubio and five other Republican senators have called on the Trump administration to reject the deal if ties to Chinese owner Bytedance remain.

Rubio, the first senator to call on the administration to investigate TikTok over censorship concerns, said in the letter to Trump that ‘serious questions’ remained about Oracle’s role, the technology it would provide to Bytedance, and the future of the application’s algorithm.

‘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 U.S.-based version of TikTok,’ Rubio wrote in the letter, dated Wednesday.








‘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,’ he added.

The letter, also signed by Senators Thom Tillis, Rick Scott, John Cornyn, Roger Wicker and Dan Sullivan, is part of a growing chorus of lawmakers raising questions about the deal.

On Monday, Republican Senator Josh Hawley sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who heads a national security panel reviewing the proposal, calling for the deal to be scuttled, if it does not allow for the ‘full emancipation of TikTok software from potential Chinese Communist Part control.’

Trump has also said he is a fan of Oracle's co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison

Oracle's co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison

Trump has also said he is a fan of Oracle’s co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison (right), one of few tech executives to openly support the Republican President

Trump had previously made clear he sought a full-scale sale of the app to an American technology company, amid concerns among national security officials that Bytedance could provide American user data to the Chinese government. 

However, Trump may not want to alienate 100 million-odd American TikTok users weeks before a hotly-contested presidential election.

Trump has also said he is a fan of Oracle’s co-founder and Chairman Larry Ellison, one of few tech executives to openly support the Republican President.

Meanwhile, China has updated its export control rules to give it a say over the transfer of technology, such as TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, to a foreign buyer. Chinese officials have said ByteDance should not be coerced by the United States into a deal. 

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