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Republican senators back plan to sell TikTok's U.S. operations

Kitco News

David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several Republican senators on Sunday backed a plan by China’s ByteDance to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok after President Donald Trump said on Friday he had decided to ban the popular short-video app.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said on Twitter that a divestment “and purchase by U.S. company is win-win.”

Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, echoed Cornyn but added that “tight security measures need to be part of any deal in order to protect consumer data and ensure no foreign access.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told ABC on Sunday that the Committee on Foreign Investment on the United States “agrees that TikTok cannot stay in the current format because it risks sending back information on 100 million Americans.”

Mnuchin said he and U.S. congressional leaders “all agree there has to be a change.” He added that Trump could “either force a sale or the president can block the app using (International Emergency Economic Powers Ac).”

U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles.

Reuters reported on Saturday that ByteDance, in a bid to save a deal with the White House, agreed to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok completely.

ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the U.S. business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft Corp would take over TikTok in the United States, according to sources.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Sunday said on Twitter “if the company & data can be purchased & secured by a trusted U.S. company that would be a positive & acceptable outcome.”

On Saturday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the “right answer” to address security concerns about TikTok would be to “have an American company like Microsoft take over TikTok. Win-win. Keeps competition alive and data out of the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday that Trump “will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler

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