April 15, 2024

steven mnuchin testifying

Photo: Sarah Silbiger-Pool (Getty Images)

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that he wants to help buy TikTok as the Chinese social media app faces a possible ban in the U.S.

“I think the legislation should pass and I think it should be sold,” Mnuchin said during a Thursday morning appearance on CNBC. He said he would organize a group to purchase TikTok from Chinese owner ByteDance.

“It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok,” Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin said TikTok “should be owned by U.S. businesses,” and that China would never “let a U.S. company own something like this in China.”

The House passed legislation Wednesday that could lead to a ban on TikTok in the U.S. if ByteDance doesn’t sell its stake. The bill passed by a 352-65 vote and is now on its way to the Senate, where its fate remains unclear.

Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed concerns that the app, which counts about 170 million U.S. users, is a national security risk. Lawmakers are worried ByteDance could be subject to demands from the Chinese government to hand over data on its U.S. consumers through a set of national security laws in the country that compel organizations to work with it on intelligence gathering.

Lawmakers in the Senate have said the bill will be thoroughly reviewed, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he would consult with committee chairs over the bill’s fate. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he would sign the bill into law if it passes. ByteDance would have 180 days to sell the app if the bill does pass. Neither ByteDance nor TikTok immediately responded to a request for comment.

However, TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew has implied the app would not be sold, and the social media company has lobbied against the bill — even appealing to users through the app.

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