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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration plans to sign an order directing China-based ByteDance to divest its U.S.-based video sharing app TikTok, which is already in talks to be acquired by Microsoft, according to news reports Friday.

Why it matters: The U.S. since last year has been reviewing national security risks of ByteDance's control of TikTok, recently valued at $50 billion. This order would require ByteDance to cede majority control of TikTok, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The order could come as early as Friday.

Context: The Trump administration has been casting a cold eye on Chinese companies operating in the U.S., with campaigns aimed at Huawei, ZTE and other technology firms. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have argued that TikTok is a national security risk.

Meanwhile: Microsoft is in talks to potentially buy TikTok, Fox Business' Charles Gasparino and the New York Times reported Friday.

  • Yes, but: The Trump administration is "deeply concerned" about such a deal, Gasparino tweeted, and would vet it extremely closely to ensure TikTok would retain no ties to Chinese investors.

Be smart: In general, Microsoft has been moving away from big consumer businesses, especially ad-funded ones, notes Axios' Ina Fried.

  • But Microsoft isn’t closed to consumer deals, especially if it sees them as foundational and capable of introducing a new generation of tech users to its ecosystem. Consider that the company’s first big acquisition under CEO Satya Nadella was the company behind Minecraft.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Nov 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Chinese short-video and live streaming app KuaiShou files for IPO

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

KuaiShou, a Chinese short-video and live streaming app, filed for a Hong Kong IPO that reportedly will seek to raise $5 billion.

Why it matters: This reflects the booming market for TikTok-style services in China, as KuaiShou claims to have over 300 million daily users. Its rivals include Douyin (ByteDance's Chinese version of TikTok) and Nasdaq-listed Bilibili (which, like KuaiShou, includes Tencent and Alibaba as shareholders).

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

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