White House Trade Advisor Peter Navarro and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinNavarro, Mnuchin clashed in front of Trump in Oval Office over TikTok: WaPo Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but ‘would much prefer a congressional agreement’ Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter MORE clashed in front of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE on Thursday before he signed an executive order requiring the Chinese parent company of TikTok, called ByteDance, to sell the app within 45 days or see it banned in the U.S.
Aides present at the meeting told the Washington Post that Mnuchin pushed for tech giant Microsoft to look into purchasing TikTok while Navarro pushed for a complete ban of the app in the U.S. and accused Mnuchin of being too soft on China, leading to their argument in front of the president.
Sources described the interaction to the Post as a “knockdown, drag-out” brawl.
Trump has since come out in support of Microsoft purchasing the popular social media platform.
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
In a statement to the Post, Navarro called the leak “malicious” and “riddled with hyperbole and misinformation.”
“One of the great strengths of the Trump administration is the president’s reliance on strong, often opposing views, to reach decisions which are invariably in the best interests of the American people,” Navarro said in a statement to the Post.
“Because this is true, it is critical for a strong America that ‘what happens in the Oval Office, should stay in the Oval Office’ so I have no comment on what is clearly a malicious leak riddled with hyperbole and misinformation.”
Controversy surrounding the TikTok has swirled in recent days after both Congress and the White House have expressed concerns that the company is sharing American user data with the Chinese Communist Party. ByteDance operates in Beijing, but TikTok maintains that its American data is stored in the U.S.
Before issuing his executive order Thursday, Trump said that he was considering banning TikTok from the United States completely.
Thursday night, Trump issued an order barring U.S. companies from any transactions with ByteDance beginning in 45 days, essentially requiring the parent company to divest from TikTok.
TikTok on Friday slammed Trump over the order, saying that it “shows “no adherence to the law,” and on Saturday, the company said that it plans to sue Trump sometime next week.
In the past, Mnuchin and Navarro have disagreed over other administration trade actions.
In 2018, CNN reported that the two were seen “shouting and cursing” publicly outside the government building in Beijing where trade talks were taking place.