President Donald Trump’s demand that his government receive a payment for the purchase of the Chinese application TikTok by a US company was considered unconstitutional and extortion-like on Tuesday.
Trump on Monday said he was willing to approve Microsoft or another US company to buy TikTok assets, after threatening to ban it for national security reasons, but requested that a “substantial portion” of any transaction be poured into the Treasury.
Trump lacks the power to make that demand, his critics said, adding that the idea is detrimental to business and international relations.
“It is a kind of mafia tactic that could be seen in Russia,” said James Lewis, one of the directors of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“It is not a good practice and I do not think it is constitutional.” added.
Bobby Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, said Trump’s idea “is grossly inappropriate and unseemly, not to mention that it has no legal basis.”
Journalists for The Wall Street Journal Spencer Jakab and Dan Gallagher said in an opinion piece that Microsoft should reject any such idea.
“If the proposal is serious and considered legal, it would set a dangerous precedent for doing foreign business through arbitrary regulations and opens the door for American companies to receive the same treatment,” they wrote.
“If the price includes some kind of unusual payment to the United States Treasury, the companies in the United States have more to lose than win if they participate,” they said.
With billions of users worldwide, the TikTok social network has become the newest subject of a fight between China and the United States, the world’s largest powers.
For Washington, the Chinese government uses TikTok for espionage, which the company denies.