Republican Lawmakers Call For Biden Campaign to Leave TikTok, Citing National Security Risks

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 20, 2024Politics
Republican Lawmakers Call For Biden Campaign to Leave TikTok, Citing National Security Risks
The logo for social media app TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 3, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

A group of 18 Republican lawmakers is calling on President Joe Biden to take his 2024 reelection campaign off of the Chinese-controlled TikTok social media app, raising concerns that his use of the app poses a national security risk.

“TikTok endangers national security, and this concern is aggravated by the platform’s appeal to young people in the United States. We therefore urge you to delete your account and set a better example for the American people by restating that TikTok is a national security threat,” reads the Feb. 16 letter to President Biden.

The letter was signed by Sens. Marcio Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Reps. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), Aaron Bean (R-Fla.), John Rutherford (R-Fla.), Barry Moore (R-Ala.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), and Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.)

The Democrat president’s campaign team only recently joined the TikTok app, making their first post on the popular video-sharing platform on Feb. 11, during the Super Bowl LVIII football game.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese parent company ByteDance, has been a topic of bipartisan concern in recent years. U.S. national security officials and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have alleged the platform may be used to harvest sensitive data from U.S. users and to spread misinformation and disinformation.

President Biden even signed legislation banning the use of TikTok on U.S. government devices in December 2022.

“There was a time when your administration publicly stated the threat posed by TikTok. It is incredibly troubling, then, that you are now ignoring TikTok’s well-established national security risks,” the Feb. 16 Republican letter reads.

“How can the federal government warn Americans about the risks of this app if the Commander in Chief uses it, too? Why should government employees be expected to honor a ban on official devices when the President rebuts the core justification for the law? And why should Americans believe you will protect them from foreign threats, when your use of the platform suggests disregard for well-known national security threats? The office of the presidency is about leadership. By downloading TikTok, you are setting a poor example for the American people, while making them less safe for the bargain.”

The Republicans concluded their letter with a call for President Biden’s campaign team to delete their TikTok accounts and publicly state that a security threat exists around the social media app.

Questions Surround Biden Camp’s TikTok Use

Republicans haven’t been the only ones to raise concerns about the Biden campaign’s use of the Chinese video-sharing app. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said last week that he’s “a little worried about a mixed message” arising from the Biden campaign’s use of the app.

Last week, White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman John Kirby reiterated the U.S. policy toward the use of TikTok on government devices but avoided answering for the Biden campaign team’s use of the app.

“Nothing has changed about the national security concerns, from the [White House National Security Council’s] perspective, about the use of TikTok on government devices. That policy is still in place,” Mr. Kirby said in a Feb. 12 press briefing.

Mr. Kirby and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre have deferred specific questions about the Biden campaign’s use of TikTok to the campaign itself.

The Biden campaign has previously said it’s taking “advanced safety precautions around our devices and incorporating a sophisticated security protocol to ensure security” as it works to attract young voters who use the app.

NTD News reached out to the Biden campaign for comments about the precautions it’s taking with the TikTok app and about criticisms arising from lawmakers. The campaign team did not offer a response by press time.

In March 2023, the U.S. Treasury Department-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) called on TikTok’s Chinese owners to sell their shares or face the possibility of the app being banned, Reuters and other outlets reported, but the administration has taken no action thus far.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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