Donald Trump abruptly announced on Friday that he plans to ban TikTok from the United States, telling reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that he could issue an executive order as early as this weekend to shut down the Chinese-owned video app.
When Microsoft appeared ready to buy TikTok’s US business, Trump put the water on that too.
“Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that,” Trump said referring to emergency economic powers. (Later press reports questioned whether the president actually had that power to do so, and the ACLU tweeted that banning TikTok was “a danger to free expression and technologically impractical.”)
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. was looking at banning TikTok as well as other Chinese social media apps, citing national security concerns.
Pompeo added that the Trump administration was evaluating TikTok as it has with other Chinese state-backed tech companies like Huawei and ZTE, which he has previously described as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”
But are national security concerns really behind Trump’s sudden pronouncement?
Or is there another reason why the president wants to ban TikTok?
Social media had their own answer: It’s all about Sarah Cooper.
Cooper, of course, is the actress and comedian who has come to Internet fame by posting videos of her lip syncing Trump’s speeches and interviews to hilarious effect.
She has more than half a million followers on TikTok, and has been written up by The Hollywood Reporter, The Washington Post and The New York Times and appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen Show.
A profile in the Times of London was headlined: “How Sarah Cooper’s Trump Takedowns Made Her America’s New Comedy Hero.”
In “How to Cognitive,” her Trump talks about taking a mental test, with a dumbfounded doctor looking on:
How to cognitive pic.twitter.com/YM51OJ58qA
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) July 10, 2020
In “How to Bunker,” her Trump defends his honor while cowering in the shower and clutching at the curtain.
In “How to Obamagate,” the president fails to answer what crime, exactly, he’s accusing the former president of committing.
“I like the idea that I’m inspiring the next generation to make fun of our president,” says Cooper.
On Twitter, critics were quick to connect the dots.
“BREAKING: Trump says he’s issuing an executive order to ban TikTok in the United States and we all know it’s because Sarah Cooper made fun of him,” one person posted, while another added, “Trump wants to ban TikTok because @sarahcpr is making him look like an absolute moron. Who wants to let @realDonaldTrump know that TikTok and Sarah aren’t really the problem?”
And yet another reminded her followers of Trump’s famously thin skin:
Trump: Sarah Cooper is being mean to me! I don’t like it when girls are mean to me! Ban Tik Tok because girls are mean to me!
— Meredith Lee (@meralee727) August 1, 2020
But is it only Sarah Cooper who has gotten under Donald Trump’s skin?
After all, when the crowd at his Tulsa rally was far smaller than predicted, teenagers with TikTok accounts immediately claimed responsibility, saying they and their followers had registered for hundreds of thousands of tickets for the campaign rally as a prank, and then had not shown up.
“Oh no, I signed up for a Trump rally, and I can’t go,” one woman said slyly, adding a comically fake cough, in a TikTok posted on June 15.
Sounds like Donald Trump can’t take a joke.
Here’s some more clips to enjoy: