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Biden revokes, replaces Trump executive orders on Chinese-owned apps

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday on ensuring the security of American user data in regard to foreign-owned apps such as TikTok, revoking and replacing three Trump-era executive orders to impose a more structured "criteria-based decision framework" for potential bans.

Driving the news: It's the latest in a series of China-related steps Biden is taking ahead of his first overseas trip to Europe, where curtailing Beijing's abuses will be a top agenda item in meetings with G7 and NATO leaders.


Details: The EO replaces three previous Trump-era EOs and directs the Department of Commerce to "instead evaluate foreign adversary connected software applications" under new rules.

  • The EO outlines criteria for determining what foreign-connected apps may pose an "unacceptable risk" to U.S. national security.
  • These include transactions involving apps owned or controlled by "persons that support foreign adversary military or intelligence activities, involved in malicious cyber activities ... or collect sensitive data," according to a White House fact sheet.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is continuing to outline how its tough-on-China approach will differ from Trump's, implementing aggressive policies that officials say is more aligned with American values.

  • Trump's previous executive orders essentially sought to ban popular video-sharing app TikTok and messaging app WeChat from the U.S.
  • The bans were temporarily blocked in court because the national security concerns outlined by the Trump administration were too hypothetical or vague.

Between the lines: The Biden administration is seeking to develop a better process for identifying and documenting national security concerns so that potential bans on data transfers can withstand court challenges.

What they're saying: On a call with reporters, a senior administration official said the EO is meant to protect sensitive American data from collection and utilization by foreign adversaries, including China.

  • A review of the ownership structure of TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, remains ongoing at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the official said, declining to share more details.
  • The EO is an important part of the administration's foreign policy strategy with China and part of its agenda to work with international partners, the official said.
  • The official said the White House wants to protect American user data while promoting principles of a free and open internet that safeguard human rights and the digital economy.

The bottom line: The Biden administration wants to be tough on China, but do so in its own way.

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

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Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Brash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

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  • Clark, who took over the top job in March, said those House Democrats "had really helped push business's number one priority, which was the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, over the finish line."
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Driving the news: Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi sat down with "Axios on HBO" at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, ahead of Iran's June 18 presidential election and a June 24 extension on negotiations seeking to restore curtailed surveillance of Iranian nuclear sites and salvage the 2015 deal.

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U.N. ambassador Thomas-Greenfield sees tough Putin summit

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told me on "Axios on HBO" that President Biden will be candid, frank — and tough — during this week's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • "The president will make clear to the Russians that they cannot harbor cyber terrorists and criminals in their country and not be held accountable for it," she added. "And they need to take the responsibility for dealing with this issue."
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Dems’ go-it-alone approach faces big hurdles as left’s frustrations spill over

If a bipartisan group of lawmakers fails to strike a deal on the infrastructure proposal it's negotiating with the White House, ramming through a package using the partisan reconciliation process isn't a guaranteed solution.

Why it matters: Getting 51 Democratic votes would be a long, uphill battle. And moderates within the party are balking at the cost of President Biden's spending — even as progressives openly lament that the "transformational" change they seek is slipping out of reach.

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America's U.N. ambassador: "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams"

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., has argued over her 39-year diplomatic career that educating and empowering women and girls is an investment in peace and security for their nations.

  • "I will always push for women to be part of negotiation teams," she told me in the State Department Treaty Room, during an interview for "Axios on HBO."
  • "I notice ... when they're not in the room. ... Sometimes I'm the only one," she added with a laugh. "And I will call it out."
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