Forced TikTok sale 'absolutely' could happen before November, Rep. Gallagher says

Rep. Mike Gallagher thinks a forced TikTok sale “absolutely” could — and should — happen before the 2024 election.

“The closer we get to an election, the risk just gets greater and greater,” the Wisconsin Republican said Sunday of TikTok on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

Gallahger’s comments come as the fate of TikTok hangs in the Senate. On Wednesday, the House passed a bill, 352-65, that would force parent company ByteDance to divest TikTok within 165 days or risk the app being banned in the U.S.

The Senate is now expected to take up the bill, but its passage there is expected to be much more shaky. President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill if it gets to his desk.

Gallagher cited a threat assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which states that China may attempt to influence the 2024 elections, and that some accounts on TikTok which were operated by a People’s Republic of China propaganda arm “reportedly” targeted specific candidates — on both sides of the aisle — during the 2022 midterm cycle.

“Every single intelligence community official that testified before the Intelligence Committee last week suggested that under its current ownership structure, TikTok is a threat to national security,” Gallagher said, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the ranking Democrat on the hearing, appeared with Gallagher for the interview, something the two of them often do when the topic is threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

“Essentially, ByteDance is the 100% owner of Tiktok. ByteDance basically has its Editor-in-Chief, who’s also the secretary of the Chinese Communist Party cell embedded at the highest echelons of the company, to control all of its products,” Krishnamoorthi said.

Gallagher was asked about another factor that could complicated the bills passage in the Senate: a last-minute change of opinion from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump — who said Monday that, while he believes TikTok poses a national security threat, he opposes banning the app because he believes it would benefit Facebook, his current Silicon Valley bête noire.

Gallagher didn’t criticize Trump directly, but took aim at the lobbying campaign, which has heavily featured former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

“They’re really weaponizing the swamp against legislative action,” Gallagher said. “Over half a million dollars spent last quarter alone on seven different lobbying firms. It’s disgusting.”

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