Jeff Stein

TikTok’s fate was shaped by a ‘knockdown, drag-out’ Oval Office brawl

As leaders in Silicon Valley, China and Washington raced to seal the fate of one of the world’s fastest-growing social media companies, a shouting match broke out in the Oval Office between two of President Trump’s top advisers. In front of President Donald Trump, trade adviser Peter Navarro, and other aides, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin began arguing that the Chinese-owned video-sharing service TikTok should be sold to a US company.

How Democrats lost the high ground on money in politics

The Democratic Party made itself vulnerable to Donald Trump’s insurgency by cultivating Wall Street, wealthy political donors, and other financial elites despised by the American public. President-elect Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric — his promise to rid Washington of insider corruption and throw the money lenders out of the capitol — was almost certainly political grandstanding. Trump is already using lobbyists to staff the next government, and Chris Christie, a leader on his transition team, is mired in corruption scandals.

But strategically, President-elect Trump’s criticism of “the political establishment” clearly worked. It first worked in the primary against the Republican politicians whose billionaire backers poured dark money into politics. Then it worked again against a Democratic Party that, by acquiescing to the new rules created by the GOP, became roughly as tethered to superwealthy donors and Super PACs. “Democrats exposed themselves to Trump’s ‘anti-corruption’ message. They went on and on exploiting the system for themselves, and that made this line of, ‘Oh, I may be part of this, but I really am against it!’ very difficult for the voters to believe,” says Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center, in an interview. “And understandably so.”