White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump wants to prevent China from collecting some form of payment in a deal to sell TikTok.
“I think he probably would like to deny China some of the proceeds of the TikTok sale. It’s not something that’s been done in the past, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done now,” the director of the National Economic Council said on “Closing Bell.”
Trump has moved to ban the popular social media app from the U.S., contending it presents a national security risk. He most recently signed an executive order Friday that said its owner, the Chinese tech firm ByteDance, must sell or spin off its U.S. TikTok business within 90 days.
A few companies have reportedly looked into acquiring TikTok’s U.S. operations, including Microsoft and enterprise software giant Oracle, in response to Trump’s actions in recent weeks. In addition to the U.S. business, a potential deal is said to likely include TikTok’s operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The president has suggested the U.S. government should receive some portion of any transaction involving the sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations, a deal which could be worth as much as $30 billion. But it remains unclear how, exactly, the government would a collect portion of the sale or whether it is even allowable under the law.
ByteDance also is a privately owned company. Roughly 70% of ByteDance’s outside investors are from the U.S., Reuters has reported.
TikTok has denied claims that it poses a national security risk to U.S.-based users. In an interview that aired Wednesday on NBC’s “TODAY,” the general manager of TikTok U.S. again pushed back on the allegations.
“We have very strict data controls in place, we have an amazing team that’s building world-class infrastructure,” said Vanessa Pappas.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment about Kudlow’s remarks
Kudlow said he “did not know” whether the U.S. Treasury would ultimately receive some form of payment. But he acknowledged that it would be “unusual.”
“The president has his own mind on some of these things. .. Nothing is in cement here. We haven’t even had all the bids, and stuff that goes with. That’s not due until the middle of September,” he said. “I don’t know how that will play out. It may turn out to be there, or fees may turn out not to be there.”
Disclosure: Larry Kudlow is a former CNBC contributor.