BY DAVID SHEPARDSON AND JEFF MASON
U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he does not oppose Microsoft Corp acquiring the U.S. operations of TikTok and said he will ban the service in the United States on Sept. 15 without a sale.
The comments came after Trump Friday he said he was planning to ban the Chinese-owned video app’s U.S. operations after dismissing a possible sale to Microsoft.
Trump’s comments confirmed a Reuters report Sunday that he had agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft.
Trump also said the U.S. Treasury would need to get a lot of money out of a TikTok deal, but it not clear how that would happen.
Microsoft said Sunday that CEO Satya Nadella had spoken to Trump and “is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States.”
Many prominent Republicans, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, issued statements in support of a Microsoft acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. operations. Some congressional aides are worried about a backlash by younger voters against the party if Trump banned TikTok, which has 100 million American users.
Microsoft and TikTok parent ByteDance gave the U.S. government a notice of intent to explore a preliminary proposal for Microsoft to purchase the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also backed the sale, while a senior White House adviser raised concerns about a sale to Microsoft.
“A U.S. company should buy TikTok so everyone can keep using it and your data is safe,” Schumer said on Twitter, adding: “This is about privacy. With TikTok in China, it’s subject to Chinese Communist Party laws that may require handing over data to their government.”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro suggested on Monday that Microsoft could divest its holdings in China if it were to buy TikTok.
“So the question is, is Microsoft going to be compromised?” Navarro said in an interview with CNN. “Maybe Microsoft could divest its Chinese holdings?”
Navarro said the Chinese government and military use Microsoft software “to do all the things they do.”
U.S. officials have said TikTok poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said in a blog post last week that the company was committed to following U.S. laws and was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms.