President Trump said this to reporters today, regarding his phone call with the CEO of Microsoft about Microsoft’s interest in buying Chinese social media company TikTok:
I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China essentially but more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen. Right now they don’t have any rights unless we give it to them, so if we’re going to give them the rights, then it has to come into this country. It’s a little bit like the landlord-tenant - without a lease the tenant has nothing, so they pay what’s called “key money” or they pay something. But the United States should be reimbursed or should be paid a substantial amount of money.
This is a reference to the fact that in order for Microsoft to purchase TikTok, the deal would have to be approved by CFIUS, an interagency panel in the US Government that reviews foreign investment.
My question is, does the US Government have the authority to withhold CFIUS approval from a deal unless the purchaser makes a payment to the US Treasury? Is that kind of quid-pro-quo allowed, and has it been part of any past CFIUS decisions?