U.S. President and Wispy-Haired Bag of Angry Wasps Donald Trump Demands ‘Key Money’ Cut of Microsoft’s Proposed TikTok Acquisition
Just when you thought the TikTok situation couldn’t get anymore strange and dramatic, Microsoft publishes a corporate blog post today that is nothing short of remarkable. To be clear, the content of the post is rather bland, but the fact that it exists is fascinating. As is its framing.
Just read the thing. It’s almost like a letter of fealty. It reads like something a Chinese company might write under the Chinese government. To that end, it reads as if it was written at the behest of the government. Maybe that’s too strong. Maybe? How about: “Hey Satya, great conversation today. It sure would be nice if you could outline what we discussed publicly.” That kind of thing.
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.
This is an actual paragraph in the post. The second paragraph, no less. What on Earth?! Is Treasury getting a finder’s fee here?
Apparently so. Fadel Allassan, Axios:
President Trump said Monday that TikTok will be shut down in the U.S. if it hasn’t been bought by Microsoft or another company by Sept. 15, and argued — without elaborating — that the U.S. Treasury should get “a very substantial portion” of the sale fee.
In the Fox News clip embedded by Allassan, Trump justifies this demand by saying that the United States government is “making it possible for this deal to happen”. That’s true, but only in the sense that TikTok scrambled to find a buyer because Trump threatened its existence in the lucrative U.S. market.
He related this to “key money” — the practice of demanding money from a tenant above their rent. In the New York market, which Trump would be most familiar with, it is legal for commercial tenants but illegal and extremely shady for residential properties.
If you would rather not listen to Trump explain this let’s-call-it-reasoning, Alex Wilhelm of TechCrunch has transcribed it.