1/ The Biden administration threatened to ban TikTok if the app’s Chinese owners refuse to sell their stake in the U.S. version of the app. TikTok has been under scrutiny over fears that Beijing could request Americans’ data from its parent company, ByteDance, for more than two years. In 2020, the Trump Administration threatened to ban the app, citing national security concerns. Since then, the White House has been trying to negotiate an agreement with TikTok that would safeguard its data and eliminate the need for ByteDance to divest. TikTok, meanwhile, dismissed the threat, saying: “If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access. The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, U.S.-based protection of U.S. user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing.” TikTok is used by more than 100 million Americans. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Axios)
- The FBI and the Department of Justice ByteDance’s use of TikTok to spy on journalists. “According to a source in position to know, the DOJ Criminal Division, Fraud Section, working alongside the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has subpoenaed information from ByteDance regarding efforts by its employees to access U.S. journalists’ location information or other private user data using the TikTok app.” (Forbes)
2/ The Fulton County special grand jury heard an audio recording of Trump pressuring the then-Georgia House speaker to call a special legislative session to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. The call from Trump to Georgia House Speaker David Ralston lasted about 10 minutes, and at one point Trump asked Ralston who would stop him from holding a special session. Ralston responded: “A federal judge, that’s who.” The call to Ralston was in addition to the call where Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the number of votes needed to overturn Biden’s victory and suggested that he publicly announce that he “recalculated” the election results. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / CNN / NBC News)
3/ Federal prosecutors investigated Trump’s social media company for money laundering in connection with $8 million in loans with suspected Russian ties. The loans were wired through the Caribbean to Trump Media, which owns Trump’s Truth Social platform, in 2021 and 2022 from “two obscure entities that both appear to be controlled in part by the relation of an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.” The wires were reportedly made when Trump Media was on the “brink of collapse” after its planned merger with Digital World, a special purpose acquisition company, was delayed by an SEC investigation into whether the arrangement broke regulatory rules. (The Guardian / Variety / Forbes)
4/ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress that the U.S. “banking system is sound” after the collapse of three regional U.S. banks last week. Yellen, appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, defended the actions by federal regulators to stabilize the U.S. financial system, saying guaranteeing the uninsured deposits at the failing banks was necessary to stem a possible contagion that put “community banks across the country at great risk of runs.” Eleven of the nation’s largest banks, meanwhile, agreed to collectively rescue First Republic Bank with $30 billion in deposits. Yellen, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and others issued the following statement: “This show of support by a group of large banks is most welcome, and demonstrates the resilience of the banking system.” (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC / ABC News)
5/ Leaked tax records show CEOs making millions through well-timed trades of competitors’ stock, likely using nonpublic information. While insider trading laws require executives of public companies to disclose trades they make in their own company’s stock, the disclosure requirement doesn’t apply to trades that executives make in partner companies and competitors. Executives, however, typically have deep knowledge of their industry and extensive access to nonpublic information about competitors, partners, and vendors. For instance: “A Gulf of Mexico oil executive invested in one partner company the day before it announced good news about some of its wells. A paper-industry executive made a 37% return in less than a week by buying shares of a competitor just before it was acquired by another company. And a toy magnate traded hundreds of millions of dollars in stock and options of his main rival, conducting transactions on at least 295 days. He made an 11% return over a recent five-year period, even as the rival’s shares fell by 57%.” (ProPublica)
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