President Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he was not ready to approve a proposal from Chinese company ByteDance that would make Oracle a technology provider for ByteDance’s popular video-sharing app TikTok. ByteDance submitted a proposal to the Treasury Department over the weekend and is awaiting a response.
It must be “100% as far as national security is concerned,” said Trump, adding that he would have to see the deal first before signing off on it. He said he would receive a report on Thursday morning.
Trump’s stance adds complexity to a possible arrangement that could resolve a political disagreement between the U.S. and China, after Trump had taken steps to ban the app or have its U.S. operations transferred to a U.S. company.
President Trump said the U.S. government had been looking into the possibility of accepting a payment as part of a transaction.
“Amazingly I find that you’re not allowed to do that,” Trump said, referring to the idea of receiving “key money” for broker a deal, which he first proposed last month. “I said, ‘What kind of a thing is this?’ If they’re willing to make big payments to the government, they’re not allowed because there’s no way of doing that from a — there’s no legal path to do that.”
He said that lawyers had told him as much.
“How foolish can we be?” Trump said on Wednesday. “So we’re looking into that right now.”
Trump also objected to the idea that ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations, while Oracle could gain a minority stake, as Bloomberg has reported.
“Well, we’re looking into that,” he said. “From the standpoint of ByteDance we don’t like that. I mean, just conceptually I can tell you I don’t like that. That has not been told to me yet.”
Oracle offers cloud infrastructure that TikTok could use for data storage and hosting in the U.S. Microsoft, a larger cloud provider, had pursued an acquisition of TikTok’s assets in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand but on Sunday said that ByteDance had chosen not to move forward with a sale.