Trump administration to ‘vigorously defend’ TikTok order after new legal setback
The Department of Commerce said it will continue to defend President Trump’s executive order seeking to limit the use of the widely popular video sharing app TikTok in the U.S. after a federal judge ruling last week presented a new legal hurdle for the administration’s push to curb the use of the Chinese-owned app.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking the U.S. from barring transactions with ByteDance’s TikTok, which was set to take effect Nov. 12 under Trump’s executive order.
U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone argued Trump exceeded his authority by invoking his emergency economic powers to impose sanctions against TikTok by citing a threat to U.S. security.
Beetlestone wrote that the “government’s own descriptions of the national security threat posed by the TikTok app are phrased in the hypothetical” and the court “cannot say the risk presented by the Government outweighs the public interest in enjoining” the executive order that goes beyond what the president has the power to do.
The Commerce Department said it will comply with the judge’s order but pushed back on the ruling, arguing that the executive order was within the president’s authority and pledging to defend it.
“The [executive order] is fully consistent with law and promotes legitimate national security interests,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement. “The Government will comply with the injunction and has taken immediate steps to do so, but intends to vigorously defend the [executive order] and the Secretary’s implementation efforts from legal challenges.”
Beetlestone’s ruling is the latest setback for the administration’s push to overhaul how TikTok operates in the U.S. over potential national security concerns. It’s part of a larger effort for the Trump administration to clamp down on Chinese tech companies amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Last month U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols temporarily blocked a portion of the executive order that would have ordered app stores to remove TikTok, thereby preventing it from being downloaded by new users.
Nichols earlier this month set a hearing for Wednesday — a day after Election Day — regarding the order.
A proposed TikTok deal under consideration by Beijing and Washington would establish a U.S.-headquartered TikTok Global and include a partnership with two American companies, Oracle and Walmart, while preserving the involvement of ByteDance.