Trump Bashes Bitcoin And Alt-Right Is Mad As Hell (#GotBitcoin?)
President Donald Trump took some time out of his evening to tweet about cryptocurrencies today, announcing to the world that he is “not a fan” of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because their “value is highly volatile and based on thin air.” Trump Bashes Bitcoin And Alt-Right Is Mad As Hell (#GotBitcoin?)
In a series of tweets, Trump expanded on his thoughts on crypto, saying Facebook’s newly announced Libra virtual currency “will have little standing or dependability,” and that the company should seek a banking charter and be regulated like any other traditional financial institution. Incidentally, that puts Trump on the side of House Democrats, a group of which last week officially asked Facebook to put its Libra plans on hold so it can be properly investigated for risks to the global financial system.
Naturally, Trump ended his crypto fireside chat with some trademark, nationalistic confidence in the United States Dollar. “We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever, both dependable and reliable. It is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the World, and it will always stay that way. It is called the United States Dollar,” he wrote.
It’s not clear why Trump chose today of all days to speak out about crypto. The White House spent the afternoon hosting a gathering of disgruntled conservatives invited to come listen to him complain about bias and commiserate in apparent censorship on behalf of platform-owning tech companies. Perhaps there was some talk of Bitcoin and Libra at this meeting.
Whatever the source of Trump’s sudden ire for crypto, one crowd is not particularly happy: the alt-right, which has enough libertarian and more broadly anti-government strains in its movement to align with crypto enthusiasts. (Also, payment processors have begun taking sides in the deplatforming debate, banning sites known to promote white supremacy, violence, and neo Nazism. So that’s also made crypto popular with the online breeding grounds for those movements.)
The official Twitter account for extremist forum Gab, which was banned from using PayPal last October, has been on a tirade since Trump’s tweets went out, complaining of a so-called “Kushner Presidency” influencing Trump’s decision to smear Bitcoin and comparing Gab’s free speech absolutist social network to the popular cryptocurrency, as both are “smeared by the media” and “built to preserve and promote freedom.”
Popular far right commentator Mike Cernovich wrote in a reply to Trump, “This is a major mistake on your part and shows a lack of vision.” Cernovich and others are now seemingly on a quest to reeducate Trump on the benefits of Bitcoin.
Facebook subsidiary Calibra, which is supposed to develop an open-source wallet for the cryptocurrency, has registered as a money services business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.)
Trump has criticized Facebook in the past for its actions in banning right-wing figureheads, alongside other social media outlets. To date, however, he has not discussed Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans. The company first publicly released its white paper and supporting documentation for Libra last month.
The 45th president held a “social media summit” earlier on Thursday, addressing these concerns.
Regulators and lawmakers across the U.S. have taken notice of Libra, with both the U.S. Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee scheduling hearings next week with Facebook’s blockchain lead David Marcus.
The Senate committee in particular has previously expressed concerns about Facebook’s track record with user data and privacy, writing an open letter to the company in May. Marcus responded to the letter earlier this week, telling the lawmakers that Facebook would not itself collect any personal financial credentials.
On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell also said that Libra should not be allowed to move forward unless and until the company addresses anti-money laundering and know-your-customer concerns, among other issues.
Financial stability is also a factor that Powell addressed, with lawmakers in both houses questioning the fact that Facebook has set up an entity in Switzerland affiliated with the project.
Facebook declined to comment on Trump’s comments.
While Trump himself had yet to weigh in on cryptocurrencies prior to Tuesday, his Treasury Secretary has been a strong proponent of greater cryptocurrency regulations.
Steven Mnuchin has been calling for greater crypto regulation since the beginning of 2018, calling on the G20 to take up the issue during an (at the time) upcoming meeting in March.
This year, the Financial Action Task Force published guidance for central banks, calling for stringent know-your-customer information collection practices. The U.S. Treasury Department held the FATF presidency until the end of June.
“We will not allow cryptocurrency to become the equivalent of secret numbered accounts [and] we will allow for proper use, but we will not tolerate the continued use for illicit activities,” Mnuchin said in remarks prior to the rules’ publication.
In contrast, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has previously called for a more lenient regulatory framework, saying, “if we over-regulate and discourage people from entering the marketplace, that has bad consequences.”
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell Compares Bitcoin To Gold
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he can envision a return to an era where multiple currencies are in use in the United States.
During Powell’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Facebook’s planned Libra cryptocurrency, he said: “The size of Facebook’s network means it could be, essentially, immediately systemically important.”
Though the initiative raised “a lot of serious concerns,” including privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability, he began to speak favorably about other cryptocurrencies.
“Almost no one uses bitcoin for payments, they use it more as an alternative to gold,” he said Thursday afternoon. “It’s a speculative store of value.”
Powell has stated in the past that the United States should not return to the gold standard. Some took the statement as referring to a call to “drop gold, buy bitcoin.” Trump Bashes Bitcoin And,Trump Bashes Bitcoin And,Trump Bashes Bitcoin And,Trump Bashes Bitcoin And