TikTok is urging a federal court to block US President Donald Trump from banning the app, arguing the move is based on election politics rather than legitimate national security concerns.
Attorneys are scheduled to argue the case on Thursday before a judge who will decide whether to put Trump’s order on hold until a lawsuit over the ban is resolved.
“As the President’s and other agency officials’ confusing and contradictory statements about TikTok over many months demonstrate, the prohibitions were not motivated by a genuine national security concern, but rather by political considerations relating to the upcoming general election,” the motion for a preliminary injunction contended.
A deal to restructure ownership of the popular video app was thrown into doubt Monday when Trump vowed to block any deal that allows its Chinese parent firm to retain any control.
The comments raised fresh concerns over a deal that appeared to avert a US-ordered ban of TikTok, which the Trump administration has called a national security risk and has threatened to ban without ownership changes.
The deal would make Silicon Valley giant Oracle the data partner for TikTok, with retail giant Walmart also taking a minority stake in a new entity to be called TikTok Global.
Trump on Monday told Fox News that TikTok’s Chinese parent firm ByteDance “will have nothing to do with it, and if they do, then we just won’t make the deal.”
He added that Oracle and Walmart “are going to own the controlling interest. Everything is going to be moved into a cloud done by Oracle… and it’s going to be controlled — totally controlled by Oracle.”
Later in the day, Trump told reporters the deal was “working its way through,” and added, “I’ve given a preliminary OK.”
Winning a temporary injunction typically involves convincing a judge that not intervening would allow irreparable harm to be done to a party likely to win the case.
TikTok would suffer “devastating harm” from which it could not recover if Trump’s ban is found to be unlawful, and motion argued.
The US government’s conduct has been “arbitrary and capricious in multiple respects,” and Trump’s ban violates the Constitution, according to the filing.
TikTok — which became a global phenomenon with its brand of short, addictive phone videos has some 100 million US users.
As US relations with China grew more contentious, Trump began targeting TikTok, the filing read.
TikTok is also in Trump’s crosshairs because of reports that users used the app to coordinate mass ticket reservations for a rally of his in Tulsa, resulting in an embarrassment when significantly fewer people showed up for the event, according to the motion.