Trump Backs Off TikTok Ban as Microsoft Deal Talks Continue, Warns App Will Shut Down by Sept. 15 If Not Sold

President Trump said he will not try to immediately shut down TikTok as he had previously threatened, but said the Chinese-owned app will be “out of business” in the U.S. if parent company has not sold TikTok to Microsoft or another American company by Sept. 15.

“I set a date of around September 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” Trump told reporters, speaking Monday at the White House. He also any potential deal for TikTok — with Microsoft or any other U.S. entity — would need to include a sizable payment to the U.S. Treasury, without providing details on what that would mean.

Several of Trump’s aides had warned the president that trying to ban TikTok lead to “an intense legal battle, as well as hurt the president’s popularity with younger Americans,” the New York Times reported.

On Sunday, confirmed that it is in talks to buy TikTok from ByteDance and expects to conclude the M&A negotiations by Sept. 15. Microsoft said that if it consummated a deal for TikTok, it would move all data servers covering U.S.-based users to American shores, in a bid to alleviate U.S. policymakers’ concerns that Chinese government officials might be able to track TikTok users or access private messages.

“Following a conversation between Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Donald J. Trump, Microsoft is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States,” Microsoft said in a statement Sunday.

Microsoft, in its statement, said, “Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns. It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

According to Microsoft, the deal talks with ByteDance are preliminary and that there was no guarantee an acquisition could be consummated. Microsoft said it plans on “completing these discussions” with ByteDance about an acquisition of TikTok no later than Sept. 15, 2020.

In response to the Microsoft/TikTok talks and Trump’s halting plans to ban the app, a representative for TikTok said in a statement, “TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it is a home for entertainment, self-expression, and connection. We’re motivated by their passion and creativity, and committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform as we build TikTok for the long term. TikTok will be here for many years to come.”

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