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President Trump’s legal team conceded the first key test of his attempts to shut down TikTok or compel American oversight of the company.
Patrick Ryan, a technical program manager who joined TikTok in the US in April, had taken the US president and secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross to court, claiming two executive orders Trump lodged against TikTok would leave the app’s 1,500 US employees without a wage.
The judge overseeing the case in the North California District Court, Vince Chhabria, expedited the case with a first hearing on Tuesday.
But less than 24 hours before the hearing was due to take place, lawyers for the US government emailed Ryan’s legal team, assuring them that Trump did not intend to enforce the executive orders in a way that would stop TikTok employees being paid.
Trump’s August 6 executive order had stated that Americans and US businesses would be barred from conducting transactions with the app or its parent firm ByteDance.
The letter also assured Ryan and other TikTok employees worried about being criminally liable of breaching the executive order for continuing to work for TikTok that they wouldn’t be prosecuted.
The document, written by Jeffrey Bossert Clark, the US administration’s acting assistant attorney general, was submitted to the court just before it closed at 6pm on September 14 — the last possible time before the court rose the next day.
“Importantly, the assurances that the government made today do not condition these points on any particular merger or any specific transaction,” Ryan told Business Insider, calling the timing “auspicious”.
“We believe that the government conceded all our initial asks today because they saw a serious risk that the court would invalidate the entire executive order on constitutional grounds,” he added.
Though those assurances have been provided, Ryan’s case — alongside a separate one filed against the US government by TikTok itself — continues.
“We are confident that the remaining issues in this case also will be litigated fully to a successful conclusion, which will be the striking of the executive order as an unconstitutional overreach by the US president,” said John D Lovi of Blackstone Law Group, lead counsel for Ryan.
The US government is reviewing a deal that involves tech giant Oracle acting as TikTok’s “trusted technology partner” in the US. While the details remain hazy, this does not appear to be the outright sale of TikTok in the US first floated by Trump.
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Source:: Business Insider