TikTok, Oracle seek Trump’s approval as clock winds down

Oracle and TikTok are racing to win approval from the Trump administration before a Sunday deadline in a deal that would allow the wildly popular video app to continue operating in the United States.

The broad contours of the deal, expected to be formally announced this week, would involve moving TikTok’s global headquarters to the U.S., while allowing Chinese parent company ByteDance to remain a majority shareholder, with Oracle taking a minority stake, the Financial Times reported Tuesday afternoon.

The previous day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed aspects of the pending agreement during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” noting that the new headquarters could create up to 20,000 jobs.

Still, the deal is likely to raise concerns over how much control ByteDance is actually giving up, whether issues of disinformation and censorship on the app will be fully addressed, and how user data will be handled and secured under the restructuring.

Close ties: It’s also expected to raise eyebrows given President Trump’s close ties with Oracle executives like Larry Ellison, the tech giant’s co-founder and executive chairman who hosted a fundraiser for the president earlier this year.

“We’re going to make a decision pretty soon,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. “I have a high respect for Larry Ellison. He’s somebody I know, he’s been really a terrific guy for a long time. We’re going to take a look. I heard they’re very close to a deal.”

Oracle CEO Safra Catz was part of Trump’s transition team in 2016 and was reportedly floated as a potential Cabinet member.

The company’s D.C. top lobbyist, Ken Glueck, was also on Trump’s transition team.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said awarding a company that has publicly backed the president is part of a pattern with the Trump administration.

“Oracle actually seems like a pretty obvious pick in Trump world because of the support Larry Ellison has given President Trump,” Libowitz said.

Capitol Hill weighs in: Some Democratic lawmakers have raised similar concerns about the deal.

“I’m waiting to see all the details, but it’s hard to imagine this is anything but a payoff from China to one of Donald Trump’s major campaign fundraisers,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Making Oracle a middleman won’t protect Americans against Chinese government influence, and to make matters worse, Oracle has an awful record of harvesting and selling Americans’ private data to anyone with a credit card.”