Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
President Trump, who said Friday night that he'll ban TikTok, may allow Microsoft to buy the app's U.S. operations if there's "complete separation" from the original Beijing-based company, Republican sources tell Axios.
What's new: Conversations with Republicans over the weekend suggest a possible blueprint for making the proposed Microsoft deal palatable to the White House.
- Microsoft promises a complete break from the Chinese parent company, ByteDance — not just data and servers, but also software.
- What’s essential is there can be no lingering connection of any kind to ByteDance or non-U.S. TikTok.
Trump "has a deal on his desk" whereby Microsoft would lead an acquisition of 100% of the U.S. operations of TikTok, Axios' Dan Primack reported yesterday.
- Microsoft seems to believe total separation from ByteDance is attainable.
- Microsoft has the technical know-how/capabilities, money and global government relationships to pull this off.
Context: Presidents normally can't just order a ban on individual companies. But TikTok's foreign ownership gives the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States broad authority over it.
The bottom line: Look for the above formula to be the minimum.
- People who have discussed the issue with Trump think he'd be fine with a simple ban.
Primack's thought bubble: Trump likely has a binary choice on TikTok: Shut it down, thus risking the ire of 100 million U.S. users just months from an election, or let Microsoft buy it.