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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Donald Trump fancies himself a businessman — and has given himself a central role in determining the conduct and even the existence of major companies both domestic and foreign.

Why it matters: America has historically been a great place to operate a company under the rule of law, and not be beholden to political whim. Those days seem to be over — at least for companies in the communications industry.

Driving the news: The TikTok saga isn't over, but what we already know is that the future of this $60 billion company was directly threatened by President Trump and that Trump's unpredictable decision-making has already been key to its continued survival.

  • Trump has barely paid lip service to the idea that he's making his decision on national security grounds. Instead he talks about his friend Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, which is looking to take a 12.5% stake in TikTok, or about a fund that may or may not teach children "the real history of our country."
  • Ellison's private conversations with Trump have been much more important than technical findings about the sanctity of American user data.

The big picture: TikTok is at heart a speech platform, which raises First Amendment issues for anybody seeking to ban it. Those issues are already front and center with respect to Trump's attempted ban of WeChat.

  • Trump attempted to get CNN president Jeff Zucker fired as a precondition for approving AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, according to new reporting from the NYT's Ben Smith.
  • He has also banned private federal contractors from including discussions of systemic racism in their workplace training.

The bottom line: Companies have learned that if they act in ways that Trump approves of, they will have a much easier time than if they anger him.

  • TikTok users famously reserved thousands of tickets to a Trump rally and then didn't show up, embarrassing the president; CNN, similarly, has taken an anti-Trump stance. That put both companies in the presidential cross-hairs.

Go deeper

Scoop: Former OMB director to set up Pro-Trump think tanks

OMB Director Russ Vought parfticipates in a photo-op for the printing of President Donald Trumps budget for Fiscal Year 2020 at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Russ Vought, who led Donald Trump's Office of Management and Budget, plans to announce two pro-Trump organizations Tuesday, aiming to provide the ideological ammunition to sustain Trump's political movement after his departure from the White House.

Why it matters: The Center for American Restoration and an advocacy arm, America Restoration Action, will try to keep cultural issues that animated Trump’s presidency on the public agenda, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden on Trump's impeachment trial: "I think it has to happen"

President Biden told CNN Monday that he believes the impeachment trial of former President Trump "has to happen," but he does not think 17 Republicans will join Democrats to vote to convict.

Why it matters: Biden's comments are most concrete he has made about his views on Trump's second impeachment.

Poll: Women of color highly motivated to vote

Voting rights activists, led by Congressional Black Caucus chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), protest recent passage of voter restriction laws at Hart Senate Office Building on July 15, 2021. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Women of color turned out to vote at record rates in the 2020 election, with almost nine in 10 agreeing that the stakes were too high not to vote, according to a new poll.

Why it matters: The findings in the poll, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of a group of reproductive rights organizations, appear to confirm the highly-motivated voting bloc's emerging power.