Bonkers update on the Trump administration’s TikTok ban plan: TikTok says that the Trump Administration has extended (for the umpteenth time) the deadline for its force sale of its U.S. assets by 15 days, setting the date now for November 27 at honestlywhocares o’clock. Before you read further, I warn you, this is hot nonsense, and any time spent try to decipher it is entirely in vain. Trust me.
In a brief court filing in TikTok’s lawsuit against Donald Trump, TikTok says that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which is overseeing the divestment of assets (or, “deal,” because this is Trump), today extended the deadline until the day after Thanksgiving during High Tea in Wonderland, which occurs all day every day until January 20th. This is assuming that CFIUS decides not to throw another wrench in the process by continuing to ghost TikTok, which needs CFIUS’s cooperation in order to meet the deadline.
As of yesterday, the world (and TikTok) could have reasonably assumed that the Trump Administration had forgotten about its TikTok ban and the surrounding months-long circus that distracted from the pandemic and squandered the manpower and energy of multiple federal agencies. Trump kicked off the chaos in August, in the form of an executive order, using national emergency powers to dictate that TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, had to divest of all of its U.S.-based assets by September 20th. A bidding war between Microsoft, WalMart, and Oracle ensured; the company struck a deal with Oracle and Microsoft, under which ByteDance would retain a majority share until a planned IPO. (This did not really adhere to the executive order, but Trump at first seemed to consider it a victory, until he learned that it wasn’t.) While Trump’s preliminary ban seemed to suggest that app stores wouldn’t be able to carry the app, the Commerce Department then issued a more extensive clarification, which stipulated that internet hosting services must stop enabling TikTok to function within 12 nautical miles of U.S. soil.
Lawsuits were filed by TikTok and TikTok employees and TikTokers. Injunctions on the first part of the ban and the Commerce Department’s ban delayed the ban. The Commerce Department quietly announced that a ban would not go into effect yesterday “pending further legal developments,” citing a Philadelphia federal judge’s injunction. The Department of Justice filed an appeal to that ruling.
Hopes that this ridiculous saga would vanish in the twilight of the Trump era have, for the moment, been scuttled. Never a dull moment.