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Fox News’s Kilmeade clashes with Rand Paul over TikTok’s ownership

Fox News host Brian Kilmeade and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) clashed on air Thursday over a potential TikTok ban in the United States and the ownership of the company.

Paul joined Kilmeade on “Fox & Friends” just after the House passed a bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S., handing the Senate the task of deciding whether the controversial legislation will land on President Biden’s desk. The bill would force TikTok’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, to divest itself of the app or face removal from U.S. app stores.

Supporters of the bill say it aims to protect national security by preventing ByteDance from sharing U.S. user data with the Chinese government and seeking to influence American users to suit Beijing’s interests.

Kilmeade asked Paul whether countries “like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran” should own influential platforms like TikTok.

Paul pushed back on Kilmeade’s questioning, arguing that in reality, 60 percent of TikTok is owned by international investors, 20 percent is owned by the two Chinese software developers who began the business, and the last 20 percent is owned by the app’s employees, 7,000 of whom are American.

“So it’s a very diverse ownership, it’s not owned by the Chinese government,” Paul said in the interview highlighted by Mediaite.

He argued that TikTok’s leadership doesn’t have ties to the the Chinese government and that its CEO, Shou Zi Chew, is Singaporean.

“So, this is an international corporation, and like every other international corporation, they deserve their day in court. You can’t just take the property,” he said.

Paul added that he has issues with the Chinese government and the Saudi authoritarians, but he said businesses can’t be banned just because they “have an unsavory government.”

Kilmeade and Paul then began talking over one another as the Fox News host insisted that the popular app was owned by the Chinese government.

“No, they don’t — see, you’ve just told a lie, Brian,” Paul said. “You can’t say on TV something that is a lie about a company.”

Kilmeade called for his producers at Fox News to cut away from the interview immediately.

On Tuesday, Paul said the proposed ban “makes no sense” since the app is already banned in China.

“So, we’re going to emulate the Chinese communists by banning it in our country?” he said in an interview on “The Hill” on NewsNation.

It’s currently unclear whether the Senate will bring up the House-passed TikTok legislation, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will review it when it comes over from the lower chamber.

Biden said last week he would support a bill banning TikTok if Congress passes the legislation.

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