During a press briefing session, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked by a reporter, given that the President often talks about the stock market, whether the president is following cryptocurrencies – bitcoin in specific – and whether the government plans on regulating them.
In response, Sarah Sanders stated that she knows it’s something that is “being monitored by our team,” and that she doesn’t have anything to add regarding specific briefings on it. Her vague answer led to a second question: “what kind of monitoring?”
In response, she stated that Tom Bossert, a homeland security team member, has brought up the issue in a meeting, and added that she knows that “it’s something he’s keeping an eye on.” Some pointed out that Homeland Security being appointed to monitor cryptocurrencies was somewhat odd, as the SEC and Secretary of Treasury would likely be better candidates. Moreover, Tom Bossert has seemingly only referred to bitcoin in a public way in the past in relation to ransomware.
Commenting on Sanders’ response, billionaire hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz told Fox Business that he believes the government will treat the industry in a favorable way. He notably stated:
“I think Ms. Sanders probably had prepared for the question and I’m sure Homeland Security is looking at it, the Treasury has looked at it, the Fed has looked at it (..) our experience so far is that U.S. regulators have been very receptive to the whole cryptocurrency evolution. They don’t want to squish innovation. They are looking at this as an interesting movement.”
President Donald Trump himself never publicly discussed bitcoin, but various top advisors are known bitcoin supporters. The White House budget director and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, promoted cryptocurrency usage at a federal level through the bipartisan Congressional Blockchain Caucus – which he co-founded.
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, a member of the Trump administration’s transition team, is known to be bullish on bitcoin, and recently stated that they’re a great substitute to physical gold when it comes to storing value.
Part of the darknet crackdown?
Earlier this year, various news outlets reported on two major law enforcement operations that involved the FBI, the DEA, and the Dutch National Police in coordination with Europol. These operations took down two of darknet’s biggest markets, AlphaBay and Hansa.
Given that the White House press secretary Sanders revealed Homeland Security was monitoring cryptocurrencies, this may mean their use on illegal activities is being monitored, and not that the government is looking to regulate the industry.
At the time the darknet markets were taken down, Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed, during a press briefing at the Department of Justice (DOJ), that president Donald Trump ordered the DOJ to take down both marketplaces.
Given President Trump’s tendency to discuss events on Twitter, we may soon see the president reveal his thoughts on bitcoin, or on what the government plans on doing about it.